Refuse and Treasure
by Penny Anne Windsor

let me describe my garden -
it is unusual -
to reach it there is a narrow passage
between the kitchen and the high retaining wall
just wide enough for an average person
then a latched gate leading to my neighbour's yard -
they have barbecues in summer -
an old ice-box is built into the wall -
a flight of perpendicular steps
leads to an area of strimmer-neat lawn
and nappies swinging on a washing tree
cross this
this is my garden

out of this
I have dug broken panes of glass
the parts of stolen cars
bits of neighbours' extensions thrown over the privet
out of this
I have dug a crooked ring
a soapstone egg cup
a silver pot

below the refuse and the treasure
is my house
built for copper mine workers --
fifty pound a year on the old leases --
there used to be green houses out the hack
with the''tai-bachs'`before the bathrooms were built
and pigs

now I have created seven beds in which to cultivate
daisy and clover, pansies,
snowflowers, wa11-flowers, forget-me-not
a multitude of lettuces and strawberries
and where the bricks were dumped
I let the toadflax have its way
and the honeysuckle wild

I go to the high garden
creeping along the alleyway
past the old ice-box and the hinged gate
and when everybody else is out --
an unusually hot Saturday afternoon
with the wind blowing from the moor at the back
whisking down the valley from the Brecons
I clip away at the high seeding grass
sycamore, nettles, brambles, bindweed and privet

these are weeds, these are not
too many, too few
give these a chance these will survive whatever you do
the wind gusts from the moor and through the sycamore
lifting my purple skirt

the plants I have decided upon
beam in the shadows
the heap I have designated weeds
and re-root

the wind seeps up my skirt --
only the grass is neatly clipped
how do I get back
through the alleyway
past the high retaining wall
wide enough for an average person?

Penny Anne Windsor

Penny Anne Windsor

The site of the author's garden is high on Kilvey Hill.on the East Side of Swansea. In two little lanes, Taplow Terrace and Rifleman's Row, were several almost derelict cottages once occupied by copper workers from the factories below.

("tai-bachs" literally little houses or toilets)

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