Sepia Giants

(. . . . in a village cricket pavilion)

 

My grandad took that photograph. Eleven village men,
his proudly staring sepia team of Summer nineteen-ten,
who lived as custom ordered them and touched their caps to Squire;
who dug his ditches, worked his fields and died in Flanders mire.
Eleven faded summer men caught by camera flash
now, curled on the pavilion wall, still cut their nameless dash.

But who will find our present team so honourable a place?
week-enders who have bought us cheap and scrubbed our rural face
and torn up cottage gardens, laying concrete to their doors,
for easy space in which to park their city 4 x 4’s;
whose rural idyll jangles with alarms and double locks;
who’ve priced our village children into distant tower blocks;

while each drives off when stumps are drawn to sit beside his pool
at The Old Almshouse, Old Bakery, Old Stables and Old School,
past the names of Grandad’s giants on a tall cross in the Square
while the sepia ghosts of nineteen-ten, uncomprehending, stare.

 

(from I THINK I THOUGHT, published 2017)