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Hampstead Heath speaks
 
Take your son and heir where there is sun and air
urged London Transport in the early 1900s.
Still they come: mothers, fathers, sons and heirs.
 
High over me, on Parliament Hill,
multi-coloured kites swoop in a cornflower sky,
a series of new moons on speed.
 
Ahead, I keep watch over miles of London Ė
a view from Canary Wharf to Crystal Palace,
the changing roof-line, St Paulís dwarfed by The Shard.
 
Hampers drop open, corks pop, a medley of dogs parades,
ducks tussle to reach spontaneous hailstorms of bread.
My canvas of woodland, fields, bogs, undulations
 
conceals a rattle of skateboards,
a wobble of novice tightrope walkers,
a detachment of sword fighters.
 
Near the Vale of Health, favoured by writers
and painters for a hundred and fifty years,
bubbles the western source of the River Fleet,
 
formed, deep inside me, by springs
flowing from junction of sand and clay.
Water, from which once sprang a laundry service
 
for Londoners, hard and soft for starching linen.
Water, running into ponds, for fishing, boating,
three for bathing: ladiesí, menís, mixed.
 
Water, coursing through me, blood through veins.

Nicky Philips


If you have any comments on this poem, Nicky Philips would be pleased to hear from you.

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