As a follow-up to Thirty Eight, I’m now working on a new collection called Forty Three. The idea is to publish a collection every 5 years which describes my changing perspective, what’s happening to my view, my family, my environment. I feel that my lens will widen over time. Thirty Eight was necessarily – and therapeutically – introspective: processing the full implications of my father’s young death, learning to be a father myself, our family quest for a home in the country, settling down, seeing out the Great Recession.
43 looks around me, focusing on our garden, and using it as a metaphor for time passing, and its role as a space nurturing our family, which we nurture back. I am writing a series of poems which track the garden as it changes through the four seasons, and explores how I and my family use it – as a source of food, a place for games and fun, an environment to influence and impress ourselves upon. I am interested in how we use these spaces reflects us and our ambitions and outlook. Also how a garden provides a buffer against the wider world, and how one sees a garden as a refuge, and a platform for exploration. What lies over the hedge, or through the garden gate?
Here’s a poem (work in progress) which is currently called December:
A night burst of inter-galactic loving
has rinded the garden white,
our lawn a west country landing
for moon beams,
spent kisses iron in our lawn.
Through my study window
I watch my boys’ garden play, their
joy pricked by the morning’s cold blade,
What better way than football
to crack this white morning?
They are visible, then gone.
And back, noise first, they
maul, merge and pull apart,
one boy hoofs the ball
and the lawn is empty.
My daughter arrives, chasing the dog,
which chases the boys who chase the ball;
the silly girl hooting, already the action is drawing off,
she is treading home down icy steps
and my heart is lost to her.
Her brothers stop to conspire,
witness to something amusing;
their low gravity of the same opinion.
and at that moment
new planetary developments flare
sun rays against the trees,
the garden catches fire,
and my boys
One gilded youth shoves the other,
he shoves back, and they take off.
The fire is doused, the lawn dulls to ice
and I am alone, watching nothing,
imagining what comes next for them:
clowning and hulking on into
men with full hands
and world-rounded faces
until their own loads turn them grey,
and mine kills me.
The boys reappear, booting their elder selves
into the garden of their father’s imagination.
They wear coats which flap like great wings.
‘They refuse to zip their coats!’ laughs their mother
suddenly behind me, offloading her gritted teeth.
This is what I mean by the stage of our lives:
in this garden we will watch our children come and go,
rising as slowly we fade.