Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to support@standmagazine.org

This poem is taken from Stand 225, 18(1) March - May 2020.

Chris Hardy Near Clun
Near Clun

I heard you lived
in a village off
the small main road
and went there on foot.
Left my car
by the crossroads,
walked down the lane
past cottages
cleaned up
to look like cottages,
smoke from chimneys,
ivy’d porches,
an ancient, empty church,
maintained by urgent
appeals for funds.
Even the vicar
only visits
once a month,
local agnostics
unlock the gate,
mow the graves,
decorate the altar
and switch on the organ
for visiting musicians.

              *

I asked a gentleman
up a ladder
trimming privet
if he knew
where the poet lived.
He didn’t but
when I said
you ran a bookshop
he knew the shop.
I gave up,
walked back
in November light,
brown leaves, mist.
Crossing streams
and pausing because
if you stop
above a river
where you stand is always
running away
beneath you,
like the seconds
just gone and to come,
not there.

              *                 

Drove to my mother
who did not know anything
except that she was alive
and defeated,
that I was there,
and would soon be gone.
I asked myself
as I left,
what’s the point
of living in a 
country village
if you don’t
know everyone,
I thought
that was the idea?
You might as well
live where I do,
in a city street
where I know my
neighbours’ names
but not all of them
and those
whose names I know
are strangers.

This poem is taken from Stand 225, 18(1) March - May 2020.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to support@standmagazine.org
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