CAUGHT IN THE NET 144 - POETRY BY MARIA C McCARTHY
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But now, a cottage, sandwiched between orchard
and A2. It’s
true, the road the Romans built
is not a peaceful neighbour; and out
back the birds,
the wind … but, oh, this picnic cloth of land!
from; Prologue by Maria C McCarthy
1 - BIOGRAPHY
2 – POETRY
||The Orchard – a sequence:
The orchard trampoline
There are boats on the orchard
An exhibition at the village hall
The orchard in November
The orchard ladder
Car on a country footpath
3 - PUBLISHING HISTORY
4 - AFTERWORD
1 – BIOGRAPHY: Maria C McCarthy
Maria C McCarthy is the author of a poetry collection,
strange fruits (Cultured Llama and
Wordaid, 2011), a collection of linked short stories,
As Long as it Takes (Cultured Llama
2014) and contributing editor of
Unexplored Territory, an anthology of poetry and short fiction (Cultured
Llama, 2012). She has an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from the
University of Kent. She writes in a shed at the end of her garden in a village
in north Kent. In 2015, she will be collaborating with artist and writer Maggie
Drury on her sequence of poems about the orchard she can see from her shed.
2 - POETRY
a time I lived hard against a railway line.
My garden was a
handkerchief of paving slabs,
filled in fine weather with flapping
sheets and shirts.
The quarter hours chimed with stolen light.
But now, a cottage, sandwiched between
and A2. It’s true, the road the Romans built
is not a
peaceful neighbour; and out back the birds,
the wind … but, oh, this
picnic cloth of land!
place is in her shed,
a voyeur with a window on the wildlife,
notebook, a desk, a sign: Writer at Work,
entry forbidden to persons
A drought is declared
and it rains
for a week.
Water creeps under the
of the butt, cascades
down the grain of the moulded tub.
The plinth buckles.
It lists like a
The car port floods.
the bunting that I pinked and stitched
from scraps of cloth flies its
on liquorice-twisted bias-binding.
Rain and shine, rain and shine;
washed and dried, washed and dried.
A Vauxhall Chevette
swathed in brambles,
back seat piled with Haynes Manuals.
A van, nearside window frame
duct-taped to plastic bag.
Four boats, then two, then three, then one,
(stock dependent on
sales, theft and season).
spilling cushions and chicken wire;
an Olympia portable typewriter;
A ride-on mower in a hut with a broken
a Black and Decker workmate; a plastic box;
asbestos panels with feathered splits; a trampoline;
cleaner; bones; a shipping container; a swing.
An empty can of Woodpecker cider; a tricycle;
kitchen units on a
scorched grass circle.
Laughter, a new
percussion in the rhythm
of summer, and through the poplars, ankles,
hands and strands of hair appear, and then retreat
in stolen flight
and fall, feasting on this leftover
of the Selfish Giant’s family party.
He’s moved abroad, the grass is
for his annual barbecue, and fruit is left to rot,
yet he’d chase these children with a shotgun,
like the scrumpers he threatened when he lived
in the house he sold
to us. But now he’s gone
they clamber over the gate each day until
September claims them for the classroom.
Pigeons perch on the rim, plums ferment on its skin,
graze beneath its battered hymen.
The skirt that wrapped its legs
lies ripped by autumn winds.
boats on the orchard
Tarpaulin stretched over hull,
on twin wheels
with one flat tyre, tilted starboard,
prow points towards the water
butt that catches the run-off from the
It’s seen the turning of the seasons twice
in this spot across from
its mate that nestles
in the hedgerow, mast scraping hawthorn.
The farmer’s in the orchard
with a man
and van with Drainage Solutions inscribed
on the side.
A handshake, then Solutions
man hooks hedgerow boat to trailer,
tacks between the blossoming trees.
There was a speedboat, too, that should have been
the waves at Whitstable, but sat so long
in the gap by the
broken-down horse box
that I noticed neither its presence, nor
till a policeman neighbour saw paperwork
at the station,
relating to its liberation.
There were floods in fifty-three.
Hundreds of sheep were drowned
due to loss of local knowledge,
left to graze on marshland
reclaimed by the estuary
between the mainland
where the orchard stands
and the Isle of
waits for the waters to swell.
There was snow this time last year.
I watched as a woodpecker
ten bells out of a dead tree in the orchard,
stark green and red in a
Blue tits and
blackbirds feasted on fat balls
suspended in cages from the car port.
The woodpecker remained beyond the post
and wire frontier where the orchard ends
and the garden begins. Now, in the bare earth
beneath the rotary
clothes line, perfect circles,
formed by the diamond drill of a border-
crossing pioneer, staking a
claim, or foraging
unwilling to relinquish lost land.
An exhibition at the
On the map,
the orchard is an ochre patch;
the key says Strategic Allocation.
Planners are given face by a man who
frilled circles, clouded brown, show the trees of now,
to be replaced by a housing estate.
Early evening, rabbits slalom through the trees
where I’ll gorge on
plums, come August.
flash red and green, buzzing
low as though on a bombing raid,
and I want to cling to the branches
like those folk that won’t leave their houses
till the wrecking ball
The dusk chorus, a pink
the orchard thrown into shadows.
I capture the picture.
The Orchard in November
left to ripen, rot and fall.
Death of the
The orchard ladder
Last summer a man climbed the arrow of
picking plums piling
them into a wicker basket
his back by a leather strap
year the speckled globes
like dulled lights
after Twelfth Night
and diggers crush
a carpet of flesh
The canopy lies
at the ladder's
feet its rungs
Car on a country footpath
Twig fingers probe where windows
wind down. Russet windfalls
tumble in the foot well, rot on
once-upholstered seats. Long-since scavenged
mirrors, tyres, headlights, a bramble-clamped car
on a country
footpath, though human-placed, is not out of place.
As much a part
of the landscape now as the lines of planted poplars.
3 - Publishing History
‘Orchard Inventory’ appears in
Poetry Salzburg Review 26 (Autumn 2014); ‘The orchard trampoline’
appears in Domestic Cherry 3
in The Norwich Writers’ Circle
Competition Anthology 2012 and in
(Cultured Llama, 2012); ‘Car on a country footpath’ appears in
strange fruits by Maria C
McCarthy (Cultured Llama and WordAid, 2011); ‘The orchard in November’
appears on the e-zine
Message in a Bottle
4 - Afterword
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