I cycle up the hill above your house,
sit on a gate to a stubble field.
Your spade shines in coastal sun
as you slice through your shadow
and turf, into rich black loam; ancient,
terrifying. A neat circle cut,
you dig down, sprinkle stardust from a bag.
You hold the sapling straight, backfill,
heel it in. A rainbow
pours from the watering can.
You wipe sweat from your face, look up.
I wave, but all you see is land
that could yield
apples pressed to cider, drunk
in shade. A man planting trees
isn’t leaving his wife,
whatever you say. You’re not leaving.
About this poem
Sue Butler says of this poem: ‘I’d be lost without poetry and a garden. But having travelled a fair bit I’m under no illusion that both poetry and a garden are unimaginable luxuries for many people – not to mention the free time to read or write poetry and work or relax in a garden. I try never to forget that when I’m cursing the weeds or bemoaning the fact that I’ve only been able to find twenty minutes in a day to read Edward Thomas or Ted Hughes.’