Orchard Poems (1)

Three poems: ‘Orchard inventory’, ‘The orchard trampoline’ and ‘There are boats on the orchard’

Orchard inventory

A Vauxhall Chevette swathed in brambles,
back seat piled with Haynes Manuals.

A van, nearside window frame
duct-taped to plastic bag.

Four boats, then two, then three, then one,
(stock dependent on sales, theft and season).

A horsebox spilling cushions and chicken wire;
an Olympia portable typewriter;

A ride-on mower in a hut with a broken lock;
a Black and Decker workmate; a plastic box;

asbestos panels with feathered splits; a trampoline;
a vacuum cleaner; bones; a shipping container; a swing.

An empty can of Woodpecker cider; a tricycle;
kitchen units on a scorched grass circle.


Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Orchard car, by S Palmer
Orchard car, by S Palmer
Shipping container on an orchard in Teynham, by M McCarthy
Shipping container on an orchard in Teynham, by M McCarthy

The orchard trampoline

Laughter, a new percussion in the rhythm
of summer, and through the poplars, ankles,
hands and strands of hair appear, and then retreat
in stolen flight and fall, feasting on this leftover

of the Selfish Giant’s family party.
He’s moved abroad, the grass is only mowed
for his annual barbecue, and fruit is left to rot,
and yet he’d chase these children with a shotgun,

like the scrumpers he threatened when he lived
in the house he sold to us. But now he’s gone
they clamber over the gate each day until
September claims them for the classroom.

Pigeons perch on the rim, plums ferment on its skin,
and rabbits graze beneath its battered hymen.
The skirt that wrapped its legs lies ripped by autumn winds.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Caravan in an orchard, Teynham, by S Palmer
Caravan in an orchard, Teynham, by S Palmer

There are boats on the orchard


Tarpaulin stretched over hull, on twin wheels
with one flat tyre, tilted starboard,
a parched prow points towards the water
butt that catches the run-off from the outhouse roof.

It’s seen the turning of the seasons twice
in this spot across from its mate that nestles
in the hedgerow, mast scraping hawthorn.


The farmer’s in the orchard with a man
and van with Drainage Solutions inscribed
on the side. A handshake, then Solutions
man hooks hedgerow boat to trailer,
tacks between the blossoming trees.


There was a speedboat, too, that should have been
cresting the waves at Whitstable, but sat so long
in the gap by the broken-down horse box
that I noticed neither its presence, nor absence,
till a policeman neighbour saw paperwork
at the station, relating to its liberation.


There were floods in fifty-three.
Hundreds of sheep were drowned
due to loss of local knowledge,
left to graze on marshland

reclaimed by the estuary
that lies between the mainland
where the orchard stands
and the Isle of Sheppey.


One grass-locked vessel
waits for the waters to swell.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

There are boats on the orchard, by S Palmer
There are boats on the orchard, by S Palmer