My Grandfather’s Allotment
My grandfather had an affinity with soil,
he read it every bit as well as I might read a book.
Heavy clay weighed upon his rust-hobbed boots
along with loam beneath his graft-chipped fingernails,
these features marked for me his manly signature.
Flat cap, scuff-sleeved old tweed jacket, shirt
open at the neck, best forgotten old grey trousers
held up with a cracked black leather belt,
this the uniform by which he would be always recognised.
The allotment patch comfortable in its familiarity,
neat but never to the point of obsession, indulged
with loving care like that he lavished on his family.
This hallowed place, of little consequence to others,
but where he, more at home than when at home, found
space for solitary contemplation as he turned each sod.
I see him at those moments of his great contentment
whistling and tilling his way through the evening’s toil,
and remember the pride with which, at the end of labours,
old canvas bicycle bags bore witness rich and heavy,
well laden with the bounty of his manly hours of effort.
Just reward he’d have said, not for his work alone,
but rather for the pact he made long days since with the earth,
that sacred ground at which, if work is truly worship,
he had long been its most respectful supplicant.
But I knew only too well that when the time should come,
and decisions made would steal from him the narrow
strip of land, in which he long invested so much love,
that then his final parting would not be so far behind.
And so it was, and to this day I wonder at that act of treachery.
But I will remember always, a man at one with the soil,
that served him well and brought him many gifts,
in gratitude for the care he tendered over many years.
Richard Rose is a British writer whose poetry, fiction and essays have been published in literary magazines in UK, USA, India, Canada and Singapore. His recent collection of poetry “A Sense of Place” reflects upon his experiences of travelling and working in many parts of the world. His play “Letters to Lucia” co-written with James Vollmar was first performed in 2018 and published in 2020 by Triskellion Publications.