by Rory Waterman
A lodge-house to an estate, once: the front wall
still ends with one redundant brick gatepost,
its rustic latch clicking only to wind,
and the clean bulk of its limestone cap
shorn of clogs of English ivy, carious and precarious.
There used to be a long metal water-butt
out of bounds, snug to a wall, pungent
with moss and webs, its content a black
lilting mirror when I'd raise the lid
that was wooden and rotten and gave slightly.
And there was a low-slung roof on a breezeblock annexe
with a fat windowsill and convenient external piping
that occasionally broke and had to be mended;
and a cigar-box of old green pennies and shards of pot
from the garden, out of sight in a cracked soffit.
But the side gate remans, a wrought iron cross-hatch
mass-produced in a distant foundry, showing
bends for the feet that are no longer mine,
that kicked off and made it a shrill, dull swing;
and the fence is the matt-green my grandmother painted,
though tarnished now, and in places peeling.
• From Tonight the Summer's Over, published by Carcanet, RRP £9.95. To order a copy for £7.96 with free UK p&p go to guardianbookshop.co.uk or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.