Heart of Gold

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His garden was slightly uneven, slightly tiered

From early February’s putting on of scattered beauty –

Snowdrops and crocuses –

Through a cascade of shade and colour

His garden bloomed throughout the growing year.


Wild primroses, crocus and aubrietia

Then larkspur, delphinium and the beautiful bluebells

Carnations, cornflower and iris.

Tier after tier cultivated by a hidden gardener.

Until one early summer morning, right early,

I saw Alf padding about.

He was doing little but looking, dressed in carpet slippers

The high colouring of a boozer or of hypertension or both

I muttered a quick Hello’ and walked on.

Over our many, but too few by far, early morning chats after that

I discovered Alf – the more than occasional gardener –

Knew that the word ‘bungalow’ came from the Hindi

Word baṅglā meaning ‘belonging to Bengal’

He’d been in India during the long withdrawing roar

Of empire. All he’d wanted was to get back home after

Four years fighting the Japanese in Burma:

‘Why’d we bother?’ he’d said, ‘All those young lads, dead.”

“Fer what?”

“Aye, well must get on.” That was the last thing he said to me.

Looking at me as if he couldn’t believe the man he’d been…

Alf died last year and, as he’d foretold, all his spring bulbs

Were buried beneath a thick wad of concrete.

“For parking” his grandson curtly said..


◄ 17.4 million

The Unwritten ►


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