Holes In Gardens – Robin Maunsell

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1977 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicators: R.N Curry, Ronald Blythe, Edwin Storey

The danger of exploring unfamiliar gardens at dusk:
Bridget and I come running across what
we take to be the old lawn, to find
your shadow, motionless, then moving away easily down slopes,
puzzling over where the house must have been.
(It was transported brick by brick to another
place before the flooding of the valley below)

Nature gives warning signals: gush of a stream,
gently falling land, even the whirr of birds,
but here workmen, when the job was done,
loaded up, quit the site, leaving it booby-trapped
with loose rubble, cut-away earth, dicky planks.
An air of enchantment lured us there.

On the way back you tell me you nearly
fell down a hole in that garden –
you saw it just in time – a shaft
at the bottom of which lay a cold slurry
of rain and building materials waiting to gather you.
I imagine the run to the nearest farm cottage,
dangled ropes, lights, the mutterings.

We walk on, silent. It grows darker. You look
towards me for a loving touch of arm or hand
but I don’t respond. It’s true at times
I’ve wished you at the foot of some shaft without rungs.
Now I search for words both to console
and seal off for ever the tops of garden holes.

Copyright © Robin Maunsell 1977

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