The brickbat wall

A poem about the art of building brickbat walls, common in the area near the brickfields of Conyer

The brickbat wall

One side of a garden gate,
a man is building a wall
from threes and fours
and bits of bricks stuck
higgledy-piggledy,
tumbling-climbing,
upright crazy paving,
a never-identical twin
to the old wall
on the other side.

Can’t get ’em now, says the builder,
meaning brickbats, rejects
from the brickfields of Conyer,
where men like him once worked,

so he makes his own,
with separate, perfect bricks,
cementing them to other perfect bricks,
breaking, mosaicing, tipping and turning.

Years ago I made a patchwork quilt.
Of old, scraps were clipped
from clothing, stitched by hand.
I cut my bedspread from bolts
of new material, machine-stitched
strips and stars and blocks,
perfect fabric re-imagined,
pretend make-do-and-mend.

How strange these crafts
of breaking and joining,
attempting the random,
recreation as recreation.

The old wall stands dark and mottled.
The new wall a uniform yellow,
like painting by numbers
with only one number.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

Brickbat wall, London Road, Teynham, by S Palmer

Brickbat wall, London Road, Teynham, by S Palmer