Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

Back to the Land

by Vivien Hampshire

We drive through orange shattered shards
of broken leaf,
shredded by the battered cars
that take the chance and venture
down this lane.
No pavements here, no lights or signs
to warn of bends
that curl around in snake designs
and lead us, braking, to
the farm again.
A collie barks, its idleness disturbed
by strangers’ feet.
A woman stands and, unperturbed,
gathers eggs and scatters
fists of grain.
Not much has changed: the walls white, clean,
the garden still
a patchwork quilt of patterned greens
where Grandpa used to potter
with his cane.
We step across the gravel, roughly laid.
The woman’s apron
wrings through weathered hands. ‘We made
good time,’ I offer, limply.
‘Can’t complain.’

Her eyes swing to the notice on the gate.
‘FOR SALE’ creaks
to the rhythm of the wind. Too late
for sentimental things.
Her loss, our gain.

This lonely place reflects her face. Defeat
has worn it thin.
Restored, recovered, our weekend retreat
will link us to the past,
complete the chain.

Added: 18.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Brilliant description of how the new generation pushes on through, making the most of what they consider theirs.