The Shed on the Heath

They built the Church high,
It’s spire, vertiginous, topped out
By a copper cross, a weather vane
And a lightning rod
To bring to these people
Of the Heath – these Heath’ens
Illumination;
Salvation – of sorts.
But they did not need the divine.
These people brought all they had –
Years of back-break
Arm ache; straining graft,
Salt-smeared perspiration;
Smith-beaten tools, rough, forceful;
Pig-smelt ploughs, dimpled and course
Folding and turning,
Folding and turning,
This poor earth;
God’s acre – only if God valued
Weed-ridden, sand leached
Harrowed land.

My grandfather dug this till,
Enriching it with more than horse muck,
His, a quiet humour –
A gentle laugh –
Quizzical fingers, making,
Doing, mending, meddling.
His plot, L shaped, rising,
Had four sheds –
Now, years later, three have gone –
Lost to the wreckers, land-pirates;
The blackthorn, taller now than he was,
Enveloped them, like the tentacles
Of some gothic beast
In a Lovecraft horror – devoured.

Up the top though
Remains the ‘engine’ shed
Brim full of mowers, and shredders
A hand-plough, scythe,
An adse, beat from a pane hammer
Two vices – made before Miami
Was conceived –
Bags of fertiliser – before bomb makers
Threatened us –
Oil drums, beer crates,
Sieves and drills,
Ladders and mattocks;
Car parts saved, ‘Just in case’
Old window frames, cut to shape,
Might be useful’;

And there, in the back, hidden
Behind half a flymo,
An old handbag
Full of spanners,
A small sideboard,
Good to go,
And bits of an engine
From a Suffolk Punch,
Is a crumbling sack –
Treasure – faded, dusty, sure,
But priceless all the same –
Crumbling now, as the years erode –
Memories, memories.

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