Treading a Path
Nineteen-seventies half-heard-of place.
You needed to tread up through the garlic
and the raspberry canes to the hall,
a sort of hall, with a lovely grained
and golden floor. Sometimes committees
of a kind would sit around there
on bean bags, but mostly there’d be
jazz and readings and swing and even theory,
the poetry of the impecunious.
The atmosphere was misty and loving,
not the hard coin of commitment
and convention, but un-metalled love,
as joyously unfocused as the garlic smell
and the raspberry-scented evening air.
It was called so locally,
a small Georgian house, a cottage almost,
with its shutters, green, spruce, in warmer daytimes
spread back to the walls. For seven years
those two had been there, they were painters,
it was said … and music? Sometimes there were sounds
of saxophone and clarinet. Should glances happen in,
the room towards the street would show
some copper jugs, some paintings .. a bay? shells? ..
and a pair of tall brown candlesticks.
And only when the probings of autumnal chill
became too bitter would the shutters close,
the candles and the fire be lit
and the sheen of the jugs and the candlesticks,
their coppers and their ochres,
be mellowed, as the fire glowed
a triumphant red.
Robert Nisbet was for several years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen, Wales, where he also worked for a while as an adjunct professor for the Central College of Iowa. His short stories appear in Downtrain (Parthian, 2004) and his poems in Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).