The Secret Place

Under bushes,

And eves of maple,

I sit within my den

Made of leaves.

I look up at the sky

Through starlit gaps

And pretend that

I am far

From the city that

Surrounds this place.

I know I must

Return, sooner or later

To the warmth

Of home, and the

Comfort of cats

Purring at my feet,

As I lay

Waiting for the moon

To pass the window frame.

The den is quiet,

And the smell of

Earth is close.

Filling my nostrils

With memories

Of planting roses

In the back garden

Of my childhood home.

My left hand rests

Lightly upon the

Warm damp earth

While the other

Clasps my knees

As I crouch

Beneath the changing sky,

And remember how

I found this place,

So tangled with undergrowth,

And hidden from view.

I had found an

Opening, just off the path

Where lay the sleeping

Marble grace of

One ‘Ann Buttler –

Recently deceased

1831’.

Though how time

Disfigures memory,

And how distant

The recent past becomes.

She had guarded

This place and it’s

Secret well,

Disclosing it only

To the nesting birds,

And foraging mice.

Then along came I

And exposed her truth;

That she was once

Married to a brigadier,

And had left a child

Who would write

By the light of a

Lantern, in this

Secret den beside

Her mother’s grave.

As I pushed back

The brambles and the ivy

I could see the root

Of an ageing tree

Shaped like a seat

In front of what

Appeared to be

A dip in the ground,

Much covered with leaves

And knotted weeds.

I found myself

On hands and knees

Moving closer

To look at what

Seemed to be a stick

Protruding from the

Earth at its centre.

Tugging at the plants

And roots around it,

I began to dig

At the blackened

Aged soil,

With bare hands

And fervent curiosity.

Whereupon a box

Was revealed

Sealed by rusted hinges,

But preserved

As good as new.

A lantern lay

Beside it, and key

To fit the lock.

And there within

Were papers,

And quill, and ink-pot

Long drawn dry.

And beautiful writing

That told a story

To break my heart.

So here I come

From time to time;

My secret now –

As well as Ann’s;

In honour of

This loving child

Who became my

Great, great-grandmother

And dearest friend.


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