Helen Calcutt




The Gardener

I go to him when the lakes are quiet,
when blossom holds its breath
in bluest south.
The horses

have strung up their miles, and are collecting inwards
towards the light,
coal, and all the dim world’s glow,
this earth-meal, and dust,

now damp
and glittering in this Autumn’s constant. All the flames
that go up are a mortal
shout. The gardener’s burn,

its heat and grain, reveal him in his awfulness,
tending the ruined mass. This mode of a man
I’ve learned to love,
tackles leaf, and loom, drags

the swollen bosom of wood,
from a belly of wire,
and bluish thistle. He wants it all
to burn; we drain the lakes

their glass up-sends in fume, their iris codes
flurry, and whiten the air
to our killing conditions.
In this blood-red insistence

re-committing ourselves.
The horses walk on, like women through fire.




Helen Calcutt’s first collection Sudden rainfall was shortlisted for the PBS Choice award, and is a Waterstone’s best-selling pamphlet. She has taken on residences with the National Trust, and is currently poet-in-residence of Loughborough University. Her creative & critical work features in over 40 journals. She is writing her second book of poems Unable Mother.  Website: helencalcutt.org/

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