The house they built became my parents’ life.
Some trees grew and others fell
levelling the foundations
in ploughed clay and sand
of marsh islet earth.
They found fragments,
neither memory nor myth,
but a history marked on discarded maps,
a settlement no-one has seen.
Capable hands had carved the stones.
Spires of gothic fingers
traced the indented detail
to the master’s taste.
Mannered, on high ground,
was evidence of grandeur
that had passed with the shifts of the river,
defining the boundaries of parish
and what an eye may possess.
The new house was never still.
The sense, the shadow, almost the sound,
would haunt our presumption.
It was not a place to be alone.
Now it is somewhere remembered
other children listen for our tread.
Geoffrey Heptonstall’s publications include a novel, Heaven’s Invention [Black Wolf], and two poetry collections, The Rites of Paradise and Sappho’s Moon [Cyberwit]. He has written a number of plays and monologues. His radio work includes The Upstart Crow [BBC Radio3]. For several years he was a reviewer for The London Magazine.