The Elements at Spartylea

Vicki Feaver


We’ve abandoned the garden –
all those wasted hours!
Only the poppies flourish.
They make a virtue of scant soil,
find nourishment in stones;
on stems you’d think
could scarcely bear the weight
their green buds fatten.


A good drying day:
strong wind and sun.
The trees are pruning themselves –
twigs and broken branches
lying at their feet.
We turn to go back in:
the air is merciless;
our ears sting.


The fire has stayed alive
for days: we feed it
with damp roots and weeds.
There are no flames –
it burns inside –
just clouds of yellow smoke
and when it rains
white spurts of steam,


Water meant nothing to us
until we came here
where in dry spells
and in winter when it freezes
it is suddenly precious.
It always comes as a surprise:
turning the tap, hearing
the faint whistle in the pipes.