Every weekend we'd go up to the Hungerhill Road allotments.
This is what I remember:
Up and away from the white-furred brick.
Beyond the plum and grey silk scales of the roof slates,
Higher than the curved geometry of the St Ann’s streets they sprawl.
We pass through grey, to green-grey,
The thrashing hedges thick with verdancy,
Threaded with columbine and studded with creamy-white parachute flowers.
Through the gate of age-silvered wood into our golden patch.
Searing colours rise to greet us;
Deep, rich amber like Oriental honey,
Blood-firing reds and scarlets – blacksmiths fires,
Heart-filling blues and imperial purples,
Eye-hurting golds and yellows.
The drunken drone of the pollen-heavy bee,
A butterfly takes its fluttering phantasmagoria from cup to cup.
The digging starts and the clockwork ants boil up from the soil;
The chocolate-cake earth sliced and turned,
The worms and wireworms writhe in panic.
The coded seeds are thumbed into the common loam.
Knuckle-deep into the Saint’s firmament.
Future harvests tamped into darkness.
The spade is sluiced from the coughing, corroded copper tap.
Then its gleaming flank leant against the peeling shed to dry.
The great shimmering palace of the greenhouse,
Thick with heat, and the summer-sweet smell of tomatoes.
A honey-pear tree with rippled bark watches over us.
In its green lacing of branches hang pears as sweet as syrup,
Each one the size and heft of a golf ball.
If I close my eyes and think back I can still taste those pears.
The juices flooding my mouth with fragrant nectar,
And my mind with the burning of old summers.
Geoff Freeman 2015
St Ann’s Rain
This is a poem I wrote in 2002 for the Evening Post Poetry Competition;
Am I always going back home?
Back to the hot summer streets of childhood,
The black bubble-beaded tarmac,
The echoing tribal yells,
Scooters, trikes, rollerskates,
The whizz and rattle of tin-and-rubber wheels.
Doorstep sales and knots of gossiping aunts and grans,
Pinafored mams and overcalled dads.
Shouldering green buses and hot black cars,
Stray dogs loping loose-tongued.
Washing cracking in tiny, grassless back yards.
Back to the luminous sweetshop,
The ice-poles in the misty banks of the freezer.
The regimented jars;
Jap filberts, liquorice torpedoes,
Kaylai, chewing nuts, barley sugar, sherbert dabs and black-jacks.
The glorious church-chime of the ice-cream van;
Oyster shells, Cider Barrel, 99's and blood-red syrup.
Back to Coppice Rec' and Morley Junior School,
Back to the rowdy, knee scabbing and breathless playground,
Dobby, skipping, chasing and footie.
Vertiginous swings and the brass throat of the slide,
The furious centrifuge of the roundabout.
The grasshopper-haunted twilights.
It's all long gone now - a long ago street,
Sandwiched in the shelved maps of memory.
A past redrawn, rebuilt, removed.
I though the sun was always shining then,
Lotus Street, burnished in the Summers Of Love.
The hard world trades on, glacial, irreversible.
New streets, new roads, new brick and business.
But part of me is still running down Lotus Street,
Plastic sandals applauding my childhood.
Here's a poem about somewhere familiar to us all;
Through the smeary car window there dazzling comes,
The fierce fractured light of bright battering suns,
The pier, and the dunes, and the steps to the shore,
The family and dog come to Skeggy once more,
The welcoming sweep of the dear childhood beach,
The quick cups of tea and a Waggon Wheel each,
The bright flags of towels laid like banners on sand,
And the feel of the Skeggy Beach heat on my hand.
The sand a million points of heat,
Against my pink and naked feet,
The seas dull crash, the roar and hiss,
My boyhood soul was born for this,
And from the sand my castles rise,
Against my medieval skies,
And at my back there burns the sun,
Where land and water move as one.
The promenade fills as all Nottingham’s there,
And fills its grey lungs with the lemonade air,
Fresh blown from the sea, from the wave’s toppling crest,
And bringing its tang to the tight Midlands chest.
The hot air is freighted with sounds from the seas,
The ice-cream van’s song like a church on the breeze,
The barking of dogs and the laughs and the screams,
The bells and brass jingle of arcade machines.
Go back to the beaches, the pier and the streets,
Whenever you can as this old world retreats,
I often think back to the sun and the sea,
And down in the shallows, my sister and me.