At the bottom of my road is a lovely green space poetically known as Cherry Tree Wood. Like the promised verdant idyll of Heather Green (explored in my poem of the same name) the Cherry Tree’s title is slightly deceptive. There are neither cherries nor much of a wood, unless you count the encalve of tress at the far end as woodland. But it is still a wonderful spot for adolescent boys to ride their bicylces and play football, for parents to bring their children to the playpark, for mums and toddlers to have playdates. Young lovers disappear into that shadey enclave and perspiring fitness hopefuls meet with their personal trainers alongside the tennis courts. Dog walkers greet each other by name and, since the newly refurbished café has re-opened, sometimes they stop for a coffee or juice.
Cherry Tree Wood is a rare site for mostly uncommercial communal gathering. The local schools make use of it for fresh-air time. After outings to the Phoenix, the reputable local indie cinema, the schoolgroups picnic on the grass before shepherding small groups of the children to the nearby facilities. It was from observing such a group on their outing that the poem ‘Packed Lunches’ came into being.
The ordinary class
does not object to plastic chairs
or utilitarian rooms used for
multiple utilitarian purposes:
pre-school, ballet lessons, Sunday School,
prayer groups, a soup kitchen, evening workshops in crafts.
The ordinary class bends over
seeping into paper plates
balanced on knees and
an insulation of paper serviettes.
The ordinary class
that their salvation resides
Wait! Someone said chocolate cake?
Oh, a small piece.
I really shouldn’t;
Not after such a dinner.
Some tea with that would be
The cake was leftover from
a meeting this afternoon?
It’s really good.
Chocolatey, but delicious.
Karen baked it?
Please send our thanks.
of the ordinary class,
leftover from a meeting this afternoon,
sits in plastic chairs
noting god and good
balanced as warm and sodden paper plates
on wads of serviettes.
Our ordinary lives really fascinate me. They seem so unpoetic. Often this ordinary life and its props often just seems brutish and ugly. Plastic chairs, for example, really upset me. On one level they offend my aesthetic sensibility. On another, I wonder why we continue to sit on them and sit on them in the proscriptive, often less than beautiful spaces in which they are to be found.
I often wonder similarly about the food we eat when we gather as groups in these spaces. This food is usually served on paper plates, which do not absorb heat too well and soggy up with the juices of the dish. It is therefore not unusual to find the catered for with knees padded up with the serviettes provided. It’s like a dance of hunched sea creatures, consuming in unison during the incoming tide.