Chris Hardy


I don't know now why we kept going back
it could have been several things

the long ruined walls like the sides
of a buried ship

black hills of forest climbing up
the earth bare dark and dry beneath,

a fish pond made by monks
the river still dammed and fettered

and a king's grave with flowers
from followers guessing he was there.

Most likely we went for the inn,
not welcoming

after a long cold walk above the valley
but always open

and with few occupants other than
its unsteady owner

reeling white and thin
behind the bar serving

many drinks to himself and you
if you asked, no food

other than eggs out of a giant
bottle of vinegar.

To eat or drink you stood
or sat outside amongst the empties,

broken cars, rubbish and
the old suitcases he'd thrown out

sure they were no use to him
though he stopped the binmen taking them

so they waited there like closed books
beneath the dripping eaves.