We carried the seed with us to our new house, in a small, square wrap of paper, like the one he gave us in ‘75, with love.
To grow a garden in the North, plants have to be tough.
Spring below the fells; early signs of green stravaiging valley floors, refreshing hills and softening a hoary rig of trees. Crag tops are snow-ghosted, wind-skipped, framed by indigo and silver. Lambs fatten off the backs of yowes in unclipped rags, their heavy winter-fleeces bramble-snarled, unkempt.
We glimpse the slender shoots of seed sown carefully in this testy, northern soil, sheltered under stone walls from scouring wind, intense and bitter frost, the sudden, unexpected lash of rain. His tough-seed germinates without fanfare. A cockscomb of downland gold, ordinarily hefted to chalk-stream banks, punctures our thin, harsh soil, defiant, its instinct to survive.
Time was the long, straight spine, the supple grace of flexing cartilage and bone, the so precise elision as I moved, came untroubled, commonplace, nothing to speak of – even into ageing.
But the ancient steps with their capricious rise, the vertiginous transfer of foot to stair, and I’m falling backwards, downwards, the momentum suddenly hard and keen-edged.
You’re lucky this time. The mundane has turned on me, a slender structure raddled, raked out of place, the shanks of my hips covered in bruises, making me shuffle with pain. No breaks – not even a hairline crack. You’ll mend.
_________________________ Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prize-winning poet and folk/blues singer, currently living in rural Dorset. Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, Tears in the Fence and Interpreter’s House, among others. Her latest pamphlet is Black Bicycle (pub. 4Word Press)