The fallen

A poem about the felling of an old cherry orchard in Teynham

The felled cherry orchard

The fallen

Each year, in June, a wooden sign:
hand-painted cherries and the words Yum Yum,
a block that turns from Closed to Open.

Seasonal workers climb tapered ladders,
their pickings weighed and poured into plastic,
pass our house on the way to the Co-Op,
Crispin’s chip shop, the Golden Dragon,
return to their caravans, carriers swinging.

End of the season, the pickers leave.
A chainsaw bite at the back of the knees
does for the spent trees. They lie where they fall.
Sheep graze amid the jagged stumps, dirty white.

Maria C. McCarthy © 2015

In 1533, Richard Harrys, by then Henry VIII’s fruiterer, established what was probably England’s first large fruit collection at Teynham. By the end of the century, Harrys’ collection had become ‘the chief mother of all other orchards’ in England … Sadly, though, there are very few cherry orchards left in Teynham, with areas of Richard Harrys’ orchards having been used for housing. (Quotation from
Cherry orchard at Ospringe, by M McCarthy
Cherry orchard at Ospringe, by M McCarthy