When this is all over: Day 4

I’m utterly delighted to start this Monday’s post off with the ultimate tradesman:


The Creator (Paul Stephenson)

When this is all over,

I’m no longer needed, and

I can finally put my feet

Up (so to speak),

For a moment I’ll take the 

Spectacle in – 

The morse code of stars,

Fields buttered with spring.

If I had a last wish I might let

Rain do what it wanted 

To do if I hadn’t invented gravity,

Or, bring the clouds down to

Flow in the river bed.

Even absolve the sins 

Of the haunted dead!

But really, these powers are

Beyond me.

No, when this is all over

I’ll take my time, carefully pack

My pillowed robes.

I will dip myself into the 

Universal sea, dissolve –

Slip between the trees –

And become unknowable


The Curator (Nigel King)

I will rise before the sun

make my way through streets

still claimed by foxes, feral cats.

I’ll catch the first train,

sit, as before, in the middle carriage,

watch it fill.


I’ll listen to every word

of the litany of announcements:

a selection of drinks and light refreshments…

if you see anything suspicious…

the next station stop is…


When this is all over

I’ll slip in by the museum’s side door,

walk down the echoing halls

lighting each cabinet as I pass –

ridged spirals of ammonites,

a hail of belemnites,

the great grinding teeth of mammoths.


I will run a soft cloth 

over dusty jawbones, femurs, 

pause a while 

by the protoceratops hatchlings,

breaking out to their Cretaceous dawn.


When this is all over

I will fetch the step-ladders

from the caretaker’s cupboard,

set them up beside my dear diplodocus,

I’ll climb to the top,

lean in, rest my head against 

the coolness of her cheek.



Dustman in the days of the plague (Hilary Elfick)


I work at the dustmen’s depot

Right from seven in the morning till three

Scrubbing floors and wiping the tables,

Boiling water and brewing ‘ot tea.


I’m alone in the canteen all morning

Now the rest have all fallen away

But I cheer myself up by elevenses

When we all have a nice cup of tea.


I’ve sorrows and joys just as you have

And my feelings get just as welled up.

I have laughed with me friend the night porter.

I have mourned with the crack in a cup.


I know you think I am dispensable

But I’m only apprentice till June

And I hold the key to the cupboard

And I know where I keep the spoon.


So I know that you’ll see that I can’t die

Cos they don’t know where I keep the key

And besides just you think of the dustmen,

How they’d feel without cups of ‘ot tea.


I appeal to all kindly ‘and washers

To preserve me from ‘orrible doom.

Keep your distance and leave tables tidy.

Don’t anyone finger my broom.


The Drystone Waller (Bob Horne)


When all this is over, said the drystone waller,

after the long silences of millstone grit,

I shall turn to verse,

pass my days gathering myths, gathering words,

eyes adjusting to distances, looking up

to gaze at hills and seas and clouds.


I shall watch county cricket at the old Park Avenue,

sit on a wooden bench at the pavilion end

between Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie,

Trueman bowling to Cowdrey. 

In the luncheon interval

Brigitte will go and buy the pies

while Julie and I discuss field-placing

and Ovid’s Amores.

A day they will remember always.


Or we’ll wander barefoot through meadows

fresh with the flourish of early summer,

rest beneath glad green leaves by a clear stream,

its banks dense with the scent of wild garlic.

They will listen, eyes closed, 

as I recite from memory, wishing only

for more such afternoons as this.


And I shall build lyrics, course upon course,

shaping syllables to the memories that followed;

trade hammer and chisel for a fountain pen,

when snows are gone and warm winds blow again.


What a lovely last line to sign off on. Ironically, since I’m writing this in advance,the weatherman tells me that temperatures will plummet tonight. Apparently it’s all due to the Arctic Vortex. Snow forecast for the NE USA. Get your bobble hats out.

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