Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Saturday poem / The Walled Garden by Sarah Howe

The Saturday poem: The Walled Garden

by Sarah Howe

Across the road, the girls quit school in threes
and fours, tripping off at speed to stations
or familiar cars, their silhouettes, slung
with shoulder bags and hockey sticks, like mules.
Remember, says the afternoon; the shut
door shudders brassily beneath my hand.
It is already dark, or darkening –
that sky above the dimming terraced rows
goes far beyond a child’s imagining.
I tread along the backstreet where the cabs
cut through behind the luminous science labs –
their sills of spider plants in yoghurt pots
among the outsize glassware cylinders
like pygmies contemplating monoliths.
You cannot walk the other side because
the walled garden meets the road direct
in pools of spangled tarmac after rain;
the open gutter choking up with leaves.
As though to listen, the colossal trees
lean out into the tungsten-haloed street.
I meet another on the road – this snail’s
slow ribbon turns the asphalt into gold.

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