It’s a great pleasure to host a new poem by M. R. Peacocke today. Meg lives in Barnard Castle and is no doubt a familiar name to many poetry readers and lovers. Today’s poem is a rather elegiac one, about the slow erasure of a gardener’s work over time when nature is simply left to return to its own devices. In a recent letter to me Meg wrote: ‘Things grow, whether we’re around or not. Good’ and this poem is all about the bittersweet comfort of that knowledge. If you don’t already have a copy, I urge you to buy or borrow Meg’s most recent book Broken Ground – you won’t be disappointed. Her 2018 poetry pamphlet Honeycomb (HappenStance Press) is very rightly already sold out.
Once I found his glove, and bent to pick it up –
nothing but leaves. It was October, the first time
I saw him, a quiet day. Any wind
might have taken him before he was ready.
His back, three quarters turned to me. The dull shine
on a khaki waistcoat. Rubbing his jaw –
I believed I could hear the little rasp. Dry grass?
He had a texture much like the walnut tree.
A thinking man, taking his time, observing
the small green rows, judging what was next to be done.
His hands looked ready to set about it,
like plough horses in the furrow, once he knew.
How long the trace of him lingered, I can’t tell.
After a while, he faded, his spade too.
The robin perched for a while on mine, and vanished,
needing his original patch, his habits,
the ancient patterns. Back came the dandelions,
the hard green of mare’s tail, bindweed loitering up,
ground elder edging in. Lost to themselves,
the measured paths. A forest of infant birch
among the tumbled walls is reaching upward.
Was there ever a door, an outside and an in?
Ghost of myself, I wait while time retreats,
leaf by leaf. The songless garden is unmade.