what does it conjure up in your mind’s eye?
For me: I desire to have the freedom and ownership
of such a place. A place of Gardeners’ Question Time, where
the poorly constructed wire fences lead to conversations
with other allotment owners.
I think of the half-dug morality, squared down
on each spade foot-full, when slicing the malting
earth, with grapping fork or the Patterson spade.
A place where you’d find
a paint-flecked door laid down on its side, as if it were
a homeless drunk who gave up on life; andwhere you
might see a silver unclean wheelbarrow, with jaunting wheel.
The short-shed where men tinker in a woman’s universe;
dealing out seed packets, for poker sevens.
Jam jars lining the window, the buzz of a muttering radio.
Plastic pots arranged like determined soldiers
unfulfilled but yet ready for duty.
A rainwater barrel nestled outside; either plastic or rusting tin,
full to the lip with splutter water. And where the watering can
lies half sunk, spout-angled, half-out, half-within.
A place where the sheaves of carrot tops are rung clean of soil
under the pattering wind.
And where –
roughage dirt is removed on the golden potato skins before being
poured, rumbling into a well-used bucket to bring home later.
My own father happy in his allotment, as every man was
and will ever be. Too proud to show emotion but weeping,
weeping in silence, gilding his heart full of ripening truffles.
Each tear quietly plashed among the tight cabbage leaves
stood alone, all alone in the allotment under the wing-bridled sky.
When you think of the noun, the word allotment,
do you think it is a place of beauty where you could go to gladly and die?