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A poem by Nicky Arscott

The poem below is by Nicky Arscott whom I met at the Flarestack Pamphlet launch last week (see previous post). I asked Nicky if I could put this poem on my Favourite poem of the week page and she kindly sent me a copy.  I’m not sure that many people look at that page so I’ve put it here instead. I love the way this poem tells us so much in such a small space. Who needs page after page of a novel or short story when you can have all this in twenty-six lines?  Do have a look at Nicky’s beautiful paintings which you can see here. 

THE GARDENER’S BOY

(1976)

My father and Inigo stand by the box hedge
surrounding the old bathing pool, wearing blue flannel shorts
and long hair, the year after Generalísimo Franco has died.

It is horribly obvious, Inigo whispers in Catalan. Inigo, militant
man of the people: scared, in spite of his black moustache
and the Ducados brand that he smokes.

How perfect the morning has been! Something to have read before
in a book: the greyfaced gardener hurrying over
as they drank gin and tonics on the lawn, asking them all

could they please help to look, his hat kneaded up
in his hands. Great aunt Glory, in toolarge sunglasses,
rude while the man was in earshot.

Now it is high noon and hot, and my father is pink.
He thinks of my mother in Barcelona,
before ja soc acqui, before all has been settled; of how

he is going to be left to look in the pool, under lilies encircled
by box hedge and statues of heads. Inigo retches and wants
to go home: the cigarettes make him want to shit himself,

poor Inigo, on holiday, trying to learn English
because he loves the Rolling Stones, his fingers shaking,
hating the English but under his breath. For once my father agrees:

the house is too big and wrong, its poplared drive too long
through the field of sheep that aren’t theirs. From the hedge
he can see the green algae that slops at the hard granite edge

of the pool, and the man looking into the ha ha again,
so he closes his eyes and dives in.

 

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