When we moved to Miller’s End,
Every afternoon at four
A thin shadow of a shade
Quavered through the garden-door.
Dressed in black from top to toe
And a veil about her head
To us all it seemed as though
She came walking from the dead.
With a basket on her arm
Through the hedge-gap she would pass,
Never a mark that we could spy
On the flagstones or the grass.
When we told the garden-boy
How we saw the phantom glide,
With a grin his face was bright
As the pool he stood beside.
‘That’s no ghost-walk,’ Billy said,
‘Nor a ghost you fear to stop –
Only old Miss Wickerby
On a short cut to the shop.’
So next day we lay in wait,
Passed a civil time of day,
Said how pleased we were she came
Daily down our garden-way.
Suddenly her cheek it paled,
Turned, as quick, from ice to flame.
‘Tell me,’ said Miss Wickerby
‘Who spoke of me, and my name?’
‘Bill the garden-boy,’
Said, ‘Of course, you could not know
How he drowned – that very pool –
A frozen winter – long ago.’
From Collected Poems 1951-2000 (Picador, 2000), © Charles Causley 2000, used by permission of the author’s Estate