From the safety of your knee
the garden was a wilderness
a wildness to explore,
a Neverland of whispering leaves
frogs chirruping from the pond;

an oasis amidst tarmac
concrete, brick, and mortar;
an otherwhere – escape,
the scene of slowest summer.

I recall the dew of early morning
in the spaces between toes:
drying soft and baked
in the easy grip of sunlight,

I recall the waspish drone
of Boeings overhead, churning
mythic trails, white whales
rippling ocean sky;
cultivating fantasies, my mind
a roving wanderer, stretched ‘cross
endless canvas.

From the safety of your knee
your garden walls were ramparts,
behind which I conjured creatures,
endless plains, impossible realms:
boundless, unimaginable
– a domain of gentle shadow
on the fringes of my knowledge.

And here, my kingdom.

A curation of colour
in Jurassic wildflower,
climbing ivy; depths of green
in the plank-work of your shed –
the stronghold of adults
and of playthings:
footballs, paddling-pools, clubs,
and costumes.

To me, your garden was home

to the breathy, breathless caress
of midday sun, to the perfect
trickle of breeze, cresting the walls
to fall lazy at your feet,
cooling kitchen sill and
purpling bricks
turning them to twilight.

In your garden I would soar,
spring, to brush the bellies of
airplanes; your trampoline a vault
to the stars.

Then, perhaps, you’d call to me
from the back door,
a familiar croon
carrying notes of teatime –
roasting, bubbling, simmering, sumptuous.

Days, now years, have outside wheeled –
cosmos of time
crawling, sometimes
hurtling through space –
and after them
we’ve fallen.

Yet ever I am witness
to the wildness of your garden,
to gardenias gazing wistfully
berthed in hallowed earth,
as a child lost to wondering
from the safety of your knee.

7 thoughts on “Gardenia

Add yours

  1. This is a beautiful piece of writing Cal……your words perfectly capture those sublime childhood memories, from the safety of that knee. Wonderful, simply wonderful. X

    Sent from my iPad : From Malcolm@Scott & Charters



    1. Really glad you enjoyed the poem, Nana Sally; and thank you kindly, that means a lot. The back garden was always such a treasure trove of adventure to me, and after our lovely trip south, I just had to write it! Hope Papa likes it too 🙂 (Also, hope you don’t mind the unsanctioned use of a photo I took from your kitchen as the picture for this!!)


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