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CRIGHTON DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE

 

When I was just a boy, more years ago than I can well recall

I trod a village path to school and in the autumn watched the red leaves fall

And on a bright and brittle winter afternoon, watched sun on snow

And at harvest time, July and August, sat upon a gate  - to see the hay carts go

And in our village, separated by a hedge, next to the store

Stood old Crighton’s house, remote, unlit, it’s oaken door

Imposing – yet repulsing to the curious and concerned;

Sometimes we saw old Crighton on his evening stroll –

But we were all abed when he returned

 

And as I grew, my life seemed tame –its magic in decline

Yet, like the others, I still watched old Crighton’s door – but never saw a sign

Of any friends or guests – his life unshared;

And other than his walks, it seemed he never left – or ever cared

From school I went to university – and then to town

All in all, I’ve done quite well, though I admit, I’ve had my ups and downs

And in my thirties with two growing children and a wife

I found once more a yearning for the country – and the simple village life

 

But where to go in search of this, what can I say, rebirth?

Though most of those I knew had moved, where else but native earth?

And so we set our sights towards the place I’d known once more

We asked the agents for some circulars – and they sent them – by the score!

We read them all – debated – and then the strangest thing!

I’ve worked hard, never noticing the power that graft can bring

We’re quite well off – and lucky – and we’ve done the best we can;

But still, within us all there is the child – that’s never quite forgotten by the man

 

As a child, in awe of something grandiose, it seemed

Old Crighton’s refuge might have been some castle that I’d dreamed

None but he could own it- none could enter – none could try

But the circular was clear

Old Crighton’s house was up for sale – we could afford to buy!

The best house in the village – once it had been – in its day

Still the clinging ivy climbed the walls, though poor old Crighton –

Long since passed away

The hedge was overgrown, the roses woody, - and beyond,

The green and crusted stones surrounded what had been

An ornamental pond

 

And that oak door – impassive –yet it opened with an ease

That I had not imagined – but the agent with his keys

Strode along the ringing hall as though he owned the place

And I found myself on tiptoe – as I looked for Crighton’s face

“Tell your Dad to hurry up,” shouted back my better half

The children shouted something – then a shriek and then a laugh

-The sound of heavy breathing as they galloped round his shrine –

I stopped abruptly – listened  - then I realised it was mine!

That was all a year ago – we talked – and still I wasn’t sure

Mary couldn’t understand what I was waiting for

But when we’d cleaned the cobwebs off, and got the gardens right,

Through old Crighton’s windows came the blessed healing balm of light

Mary threw away the drapes and put up lace instead

We put in central heating and bought a decent bed,

Had the house rewired and painted, pointed, cleared the drains,

And I suppose there’s nothing now of Crighton that remains

 

The kids both love it – Mary says it was a great idea

The services to town are good; the air is fresh and clear

And in the summer evenings we have dinner do’s for friends

And I suppose that Mary’d say that here, the story ends;

 

But some nights when there is a wind that funnels down the lane

Or when the slant of some great auburn sunset

Flashes through the clouds despite the rain,

A noticeable change – a tiny sound – a sheep? – a bird?

The banging of a door?

I listen, feel, abruptly turn around

But Crighton doesn’t live here any more

 

                              Copyright 2001-2011 Joseph Kilhane: All rights reserved