Image by Vicki Frerer

Incident at Grantley Manor

Stephen Edgar


Incident at Grantley Manor

Stephen Edgar


Incident at Grantley Manor

Incident at Grantley Manor

Seven o'clock, the time set in his mind
Like herbs displayed in aspic, as the chimes
Were striking. Then the squeaking of his shoes'

Black leather tread, pacing those measures down
The first-floor hall, where sunset's apricot
Was oozing nectar through the open doors.

Her voice, conspiratorial and astonished,
Called him across the bedroom's drowning cube
Towards the window. How well Miss Waterson

Remembers it: "Please come and look at this,
Mr Devine;" the clock on the mantelpiece
Rehearsing for the hour of seven. She pointed

Down. There, a moving picture on the lawn,
His father, like a patient whose long months
Of immobility meant learning afresh

The art of walking, climbing the light's green slope
Towards the summer house, looking intently
As though for a cuff link or a signature.

That evening he still thinks of, lying now,
No longer needing lessons for his legs,
How he cast back his glance and saw the windows

Blazing like cats' eyes on his uselessness,
And in that golden mirror, two gold figures
Recording him, two shadows of dark gold-

Miss Waterson (was it?) and another one-
And then took out his watch on which the hands
Were so meticulously assembling seven.

Young Emily, appointed just the week
Before, came rushing to the stairs-she'd seen
Him stumble-to advise Mr Devine

About his father's fall. And so, almost
Immobilized herself in that clinging syrup,
She observed the hall clock's quaint rendition of

Seven, the time set clearly in his mind
Like summer herbs in aspic, as the chimes
Were striking. Then the squeaking of his shoes'

Black leather tread, pacing those measures down
The corridor, where sunset's apricot
Was oozing nectar through the open doors.

Her voice, companionable but astonished,
Floated across the bedroom's drowning cube
As he descended. How well Miss Waterson

Remembers it: "Please come and look at this;"
And Emily, who had just been taken on
That week, came rushing to the window. She pointed

Down, smartly on the stroke of seven. There,
A moving picture on the lawn, was old
Mr Devine, like a patient whose long months

Of immobility meant learning afresh
The art of walking, climbing the light's green slope
Abstractedly towards the rose garden.

That evening he still thinks of, lying now,
No longer needing lessons for his legs,
How he cast back his glance and saw the windows

Glaring like cats' eyes on his helplessness,
And in that golden mirror, two gold figures
Gesticulating, two shadows of dark gold-

The new girl (was it?) and another one-
And then took out his watch on which the hands
Were so laboriously assembling seven.

Miss Waterson, with Emily behind her
In a panic, dashed to the stairs to find
Mr Devine, anxious to let him know

About his father's fall. And there they saw him,
Almost immobile in that clinging syrup,
And heard the hall clock's muffled tolling of

Seven, the time set firmly in his mind...


from Photography for Beginners (River Road Press, 2007), © Stephen Edgar 2007, used by permission of the author and River Road Press

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