Image by Kristin Headlam

Tangley Lodge

i'm looking at my grandmother
at the highermost window of the mansion she lives in
as though it was the room closer to the clouds
than the attic even ——

like the starling at Thomas Hardy’s wintry convention
ruminating the rooks’ wisdom
she’s looking over her garden
studying something in particular
among the several classes of flowers & shrubs
completely missing me at the other end ——

something in particular ——
beginning with the chrysanthemums perhaps
then moving into the mood without a name
which her physician attempts to arrest with much quiet
& food textures more usually chewed by infants ——

as quickly out of it as she found herself in
she refocusses upon the chrysanths and only then
sees me at the bottom of the garden ——

at the bottom of the garden
best seen from the mansion’s upper window
knee-high to the lavender with bees in my ears
staring through the swaying slate-greys & blues
i jump as i realise my grandmother’s waving at me ——

against the crimson & yellow of the hollyhocks
& the claret & white of the roses bordered by green privet
she picks me out ——

looking at my grandmother
i remember i’m actually flying through the garden
precisely overhauling the rockery & compost
the vegetables lying in the thick furrows & braiding the lattice ——
i'm gliding the be-shadowed lawns & the rectangular ponds
of goldfish & eels crisscrossing the bottomless
reflection of flitting clouds ——

i remember i'm over the roof & into the enormous
shapes of the sky thereby committed
to the fate of my flight
whosoever on earth would detain me

and in the blink of someone intercepting
my unwavering eye
my grandmother disappears
and the shadow of the divided heavens
drives the dream-day warmth aside
as i rise from the herb-garden awed in the sudden quiet
by the immensity of it all

(1995)


from My Life in Theatre, (River Road Press, 2009), © Kris Hemensley, used by permission of the author. The recording is taken from My Life in Theatre (River Road Press, 2009) © Kris Hemensley/River Road Press, 2009

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