The Gatehouse


Late. And though the house fills out with music,
This left hand takes me down a branching line
To the slow outskirts of a market town.
We are walking to the Gatehouse. Mr Curtis
Will call me Peäter in broad Lincolnshire;
Recurrants glow, molten about the shade,
The cows are switched along a ragged lane.
Tonight, my son tousles away at Chopin
And a grandfather whom he never knew
Plays Brahms and Schumann at the same keyboard –
Schiedmayer and Soehne, Stuttgart –
The older, stronger hands ghosting a ground-bass
Out of a life whose texture still eludes me,
Yet both hold up their candles to the night.
The Gatehouse settles back into the trees,
Rich in its faded hens, its garden privy
Sweet with excrement and early summer.
New bread and sticky cake for tea. The needle
Dances across: Line Clear to Train on Line;
The lane is music too, it has no ending
But vanishes in shifting copse and woodsmoke.
The levels cross: a light and singing wind,
Arpeggios, a pause upon the air.
The gate is white and cold. I swing it to,
Then climb between the steady bars to watch
The station blurring out at the world’s end.
The wagons beat their poisie du depart;
The lamps are wiped and lit. Then we, too, go.

from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2002), © Peter Scupham 2002, used by permission of the author

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