The Allotments

by Patrick Dillon

I see they’ve put a new McSorley in the ground
along with all the McBrides and Hanrahans
the Smiths and Smythes, as though in the spring
something good might come of it
planting an empty bulb inside a box.
And yet something must be done with them
to those who gave life to trousers and brown coats.
A wind scrapes the Earth.
Hydrangeas fall on hard times.
To leave them haphazard where they fell
usually alone, sometimes in a chair
plunged into the soup
to have so many of these monuments at the side of the road
would make a mockery of us.  And all our History.
It would be hard to know where to go or what to do.
We cannot sell them.  We do not eat them.
They cut the legs off art.  In sunnier climes
our fathers might be stacked in concrete casks
six or seven storeys high.
Here there’s nothing for it but to plant them out in rows
new villages of words and pots and stone
so that we may stand alone and be open to the wind.
There’s not much dancing can be got from these puppets
however well bright bones and jaws might drag
and dangle in a tango.  I suppose you’d say
they took a step and vanished in our eyes.
They go to where the jive was spun and jigs aplenty
and well turned calves and old at twenty.
We talk of corms and crocuses.
What we hide is how we take their place.
It is an old gavotte and we will honour it.