trombone poetry

now another clock has stopped
and nobody can turn it back
a clock of seasons on a corner
measuring out fruit and veg

decades scuttling to and fro
stooping, scooping into bags
oranges and origins:
"Spanish: they'll be ripe tomorrow."

crates on stone, bananas dangling
ruddy fingers judging spuds
apples, peppers, lemons, sprouts
summer grapes and winter greens

latterly he sold outside
awaiting works for chilling months
I never stepped inside again
nor saw his black cat snooze on sacks

then one day the light went out
boxes huddling indoors
fruit abandoned, slowly fading
iron scales now weighing nought

five greengrocer generations
glumly grinding to this halt
remembrance of wars and winters
carts and markets in the smog

memories of the buried brook
evoked by bouts of flooded drains
harvest stories frozen up
now local history's trickle stops

finally the shop's for sale
appointments can be made to view
while somewhere in an old folks' home
he's sampling vegetable stew

a tuffet for his telephone
a chain of hangers on a door
halfway up the threadbare stairs
a basin with a single tap

the ceiling sags and undulates
his bed is bubble-wrapped for warmth
no bathroom, just an outside privy
hidden by a screen of weeds

the floor shrinks back from cracked-up walls
their paper shed like lizard skin
on the upright (stuffed with bills)
glares the photo of his mum

mushroom dank, these unloved leavings
twitch and crumple in the night
down among the browning peaches
tired spiders stalk the shop

the supermarket flogs me food
aesthetically modified
I contemplate the dying breeds
give one more "thanks" for all that fruit.



Paul Taylor 2001