Old suburban country gardens

They are full of incomplete dreams
hedges which have grown too high
fallen fences gone to seed
dandelion garden tennis courts
a mineral not vegetable mangle
rusting in peace, its gutta percha roller
white hard as the sheets it pressed—
somewhere beyond the wild-haired china pears
there is the cap of the well
backed up on to the night-soil lane
morning glory trumpets in tangled hexagons of chook-wire,
in there too, laid to deceive and lost,
the bantams’ china egg, first adult lie,
down here is the long tangle of grass
no push-mower ever cut
only a wary grand-father could scythe it down
home of the brown snake with rebellious rocks
keen to take the edge off an old man’s pride

And if you looked out, what would you see?
A barrel-vaulted sky
the sun the bright bung-hole
through which generations saw their light
streaming in like the season’s hops,
the malt of evenings by the range,
toasted winters, the froth of spring,
and the dumb pleasure of summer’s full draught.

These are gardens gone wild with themselves,
full of dogs and kids and secret places
used for generations but still untamed
continually remade by its most vigorous growth
gypsy owner-occupiers
here for twenty or more seasons
and then gone,
leaving the game suspended at deuce
the eggs uncollected
and their kids’ shadows in the pear trees
moving in the moonlight of their old-age dreams.

Julian Croft

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