Orchard Poems (2)

Three poems about an orchard in Teynham: ‘Pioneer’, ‘All that remains’ and a haiku ‘The orchard in November’

Pioneer

There was snow this time last year.
I watched as a woodpecker knocked

ten bells out of a dead tree in the orchard,
stark green and red in a virgin world.

Blue tits and blackbirds feasted on fat balls
suspended in cages from the car port.

The woodpecker remained beyond the post
and wire frontier where the orchard ends

and the garden begins. Now, in the bare earth
beneath the rotary clothes line, perfect circles,

formed by the diamond drill of a border-
crossing pioneer, staking a claim, or foraging

old territory, unwilling to relinquish lost land.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Dead tree in an orchard in Teynham, by M McCarthy
Dead tree in an orchard in Teynham, by M McCarthy

All that remains

There were ponies once.
We were told they stripped the bark from the trees,
and all that remains is a horsebox,

half-hidden by a hedge halfway down the orchard.
A briefcase, papers, a rusting barbecue …
sofa cushions bulge through the wooden slats.

This week, as the last blossom falls,
a broad-shouldered man unpicks, unpacks,
sorts, discards, ferries the innards away in a van.

Three days, it takes, to rip it apart.
Shutters fall: jemmied, hammered, unscrewed,
unslatted, piled in a tipi-shape, burned.

Ivy climbs the giant frame,
a skeleton of flat bed, wheels and metal grid,
stripped of muscle and skin.

The metal HORSES sign is still attached,
but only spectres of ponies ride this now,
the wind whistling through their bones.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Looker's hut in an orchard in Teynham, by S Palmer
Looker’s hut in an orchard in Teynham, by S Palmer

The orchard in November

Fermenting apples
left to ripen, rot and fall.
Death of the harvest.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Teynham to Sheppey as the crow flies from the author's attic, by S Palmer
Teynham to Sheppey as the crow flies from the author’s attic, by S Palmer