Huntingdonshire Eclogue XI  




He set crocuses and daffodils along Old Ford Lane

for others’ pleasure.  That we had noticed and admired them

pleased him immensely.  As public, as rough-hewn, and original


as that concrete heart he laid before his sleepy wife one

St Valentine’s morning, and which still hangs beside the elm

stumps, impervious to disease.  There was nobody else


we knew who would throw back their window and call from

dinner – Have a claret! – or carrot as I once misheard,

imagining some avuncular party trick... His generosity


was a magician’s black box.  One evening, we returned home

beneath a vast umbrella of fresh rhubarb: eaten, it set the date

for our daughter’s birth!  The day David Llewellin died


there had been unlooked-for perturbations in nature, the kind

bards exaggerate when a great man has fallen, the kind

Glendower boasted for his own nativity (Signs have marked


me extraordinary).  When we tried, your last weekend,

to visit Spring Cottage, we found the skeletal footbridge

washed by a new ford; what had seemed a senescent trickle


become a lethal tide.  By the time six days had carried

that week to its end, the waters had subsided, one willow

shattered, the rest of the lane swept grey.  Now, today


as I push our daughter across your bridge, the Kym lies

peacefully retired; and in the uncut verges, crocuses

give way to daffodils, St Valentine to Persephone.