Today's poem is by Clive Watkins

Hilda and Eddie's Place

Here is the Orchard: a dozen apple-trees
Neglected for decades. Their unpruned branches,
Gnarled and ingrown, twist upon themselves,
The green fruit hanging late into the winter.
Here are your cars, axle-deep in grass:
Vauxhall and Morris, Jowett, Railton, Ford —
Your dead children, long since left behind.
Their fine walnut and leather are rain-rotted,
Headlamps smashed, paint-work pitted with rust.
Now fierce briars and white convolvulus
Have taken hold; thistle and redweed thrust
Through radiator grills, through wire wheels.
Mice in the upholstery, dead flies spangling the dash.
Sunlight, starlight, sunlight, starlight, turning.

Here is the Workshop: corrugated iron
Buckled and feathering softly into dust.
Daylight glimmers through webbed window-panes —
On your bench, your drill, your power-saw and lathe,
On the dark forge at which you worked so long.
Above, two shades hang down on fraying wires
From a high beam where the swallows nest each year.
Black oil has stained the floor, its heavy sweat
Thickening the still air. The pit is flooded,
Its span of timbers gone. Dead leaves; a swarf
Of brass and copper and steel; and all around,
On bench and shelf, a host of gathered parts —
Bent pins, cracked gears, worn shafts — in this draughty stall
Where broken things were fetched for you to mend.

Here is the Cottage: an ancient thatch gone green,
Damp walls, distemper peeling. Unwashed plates
Clutter the stone sink. The stink of plumbing,
Of your three lean cats, survivors of their tribe,
Has settled on the place — on the rag rugs,
On the newspapers you will not throw away:
Two world wars and sundry lesser squabbles
Crumbling to dust under their dreadful weight.
I am not your child. From wire cages stacked
Beneath the cedar by the kitchen door,
Your prize mynah, glossy black and gold,
Screams out his single cry, telling the hour —
Eight o'clock, eight o'clock, eight o'clock — right twice each day;
And the blinded finches sing and sing and sing.

Copyright © 2003 Clive Watkins All rights reserved
from Jigsaw
Waywiser Press / Dufour Editions
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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