On My Walk Along Stoke Road …

I stop where the pig farm used to be,
try to remember the names of the pigs.
I thought it strange a sty nestled
among modern houses -
but the pigs were there first.
Back then, everyone complained about the smell,
as if they had a right.

I skirt around clumps of houses
where the old football pitch stood.
Once my boys played in the goal mouths;
the open spaces. Beyond the estate,
still, a concealed duck pond.
The quack of ducks gives it away.

I wave to the retired music teacher,
Mr Cook. His house is called:
Nutwood Lodge (though it’s not a lodge).
In his windows, floral curtains,
tall green vases filled with silk poppies.
I often walk behind him to catch chalk dust
or listen to the pluck of his acoustic guitar.

I take time to sniff the roses that ramble
over the remaining thatched cottage.
Behind the door, I see a table laden
with bread and cheese, home-made fruit cake,
a jug of lemonade or warm milk:
simple country style snacks.

These things, to soften the edges of urban living.

Belinda Rimmer