There was the garden the old ladies had,
I used to walk past in the afternoon.
Even to think of it revived the day,
as if, through rain, a light crept round a room.
I could not tell the two of them apart.
But they would bend to cyclamen, the heart-
shaped leaves, the silvered veins. They knew each one,
each moss rose, bellflower. They knew every leaf.
When did they die? A new job – later, grief –
removed me from that place. Rushed by in cars
I would spot the blue-bricked wall, be briefly sad
those breathing plants were over. But today
glancing from a crossroads up the slope
I thought, with pleasure, ‘Yes, that was the place.
That was the garden the old ladies had.’
Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953. Her eighth collection, Then, will be published by Carcanet in April 2013.