In the middle of the birch trees,
he calls out the opening of her name
which is Olia, and in this round emptiness,
she writes between the lines of birch
on her fingers in berry juice
why and how she will feed him.

Silenced by her silence, he walks in
his new and unaccustomed greys,
tracing back to her the lineage
of the swampy grass, marked by
severed trees and the absences
of earth their feet had made.

In a hollow by the brook, he finds her
sitting in the moss, caressing into falling
bunches of berries. “I’ll wait for you
in the boat by the mouth of the river.”
The lines around her lips, etched in dark
juices, dark years, smile “I will come.”

For forty years he has waited at the mouth
of some river for her – gathered with her
and then separated. He counts his crop
of mushrooms four times before calling again.
She calls back his name, half an hour passes,
and she joins him.

Madeleine Pulman-Jones