topple and fall

this is the tree that shadows the priory, this the lily
the winding way and the man on the path;
these the branches that bend to the wet and the stone
with the flower in its eye, its iris

buy a panama hat, says the man,
he has stacks, he turns, he dares you

you say you can’t: the train is late, the way out
is blocked by the girl on the bench
and the little dog scampers,
pursued by a duck like a dodo, a headless torso,
and sphinxes that look out with children’s faces

they miss the puppy –
they’re too involved with out-staring each other,
hair carved in cabbage leaves, flapping and stone,
one hides his face, the other one tries to stand on his foot
while behind them venetian blinds topple and fall

the lady is legless, the dam is dry
and the man stands benign on the cusp of the wall
beneath the tree that shades lily, his wife
in her panama hat while the little dog tugs on the lead,
dreams of chasing the children who scamper and fall

you trip over chocolate and topple in fields
of coquelicot, cornflower, cabbage and rue
you slip on wet stone, in the priory ruins
singing lili marleen, and all the while, the beam in your eye
prevents you from seeing the tree, the shadow, the winding way
and the girl on the bench, departed


Catherine Edmunds