Sunday, 5 May 2013

Freeman's Wood

Today's poem has proved really challenging. I wrote two versions of the same poem, with many shared lines. The first I suspect may have been technically better, with hidden rhymes that didn't follow an assumed pattern. But it felt clunky and lacked flow. So I started again and moved all the lines around. This is the result:

Freeman's Wood

In her Memoirs and a great aunt's letter
(Which the date is, I know no better)
I found a reference to The Primrose Day.
On which they celebrated their mother.
Now May, that day passed unknown from any other.

My grandmother loved to press wild flowers.
Pages of them store piled in her shower,
To make cards. Such skill she had in the pressing,
The preserving of life. Under cairns of Yellow Pages,
Her Wayside flowers, preserved for ages.

Both she and Papa knew all the names
To me pointed out on childhood lanes,
Flower faces that looked like Dames:
"Dog Rose and Peony, Hollyhock, Pimpernel
King's Spear and Goosefoot, Honesty and Spicknell."

Through Gloucestershire woods and fields
She gathered wood above the wheels
Of a converted pram. They gathered flowers,
Nettles for soup, collecting edible mushroom.
A poor life, but free where to roam, I assume.

I think of her now, as we walk to Freeman's Wood
Flowers to find for a project make good,
A daily quest. I find a vast space, overgrown:
Redundant, fenced in, for none to access;
And no one can roam, no path to digress.

A tent nestled there, a loner seeks shelter
Within the brambled, frontier delta:
An addict, perhaps. In Freeman's wood no prams could pass,
Or squeeze beyond the cruel fence. No place of sojourn,
To view the flowers, their names to learn.

And of this place, what memoir will fettle?
Fenced off "Keep Out", embalmed in metal.
Uncared for, but defended, Lancaster land withheld.
No frontier for the common man. Ungoverned beauty.
But trespassing here, feels a cautious duty.

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