The Covenant


This grey morning carries
the promise of subtle music:
rain sleeking cast iron
and running safely to ground.

Yesterday I climbed an extending ladder
bringing tools on a red canvas belt
and tended to my gutters.
I checked them for rust,
learning their structure, naming the parts:
swan neck, hopper head, anglepiece, shoe.
I screwed the eared sockets tight to the walls.
I tugged whipcords of ivy
from its rooting places in the brickwork,
hooked out the martins’ nest
and tossed it down –
it splintered on the path.

I live alone now, and things are simple.
This is the covenant:
I keep the ladder ready behind the shed,
and the storm is earthed.


Jean Sprackland


(From Jean Sprackland's new collection Sleeping Keys, due out with Cape in September 2013.)

Jean Sprackland’s fourth collection, Sleeping Keys, will be published by Cape this September. Her collection Tilt won the Costa Poetry Award in 2008, and she is also the author of a book of essays, Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach, which was Book of the Week on Radio 4 and won the Portico Prize for Non-Fiction. Jean lives in London, and is Reader in Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.