In May I became a volunteer at the National Trust property at Croome in Worcestershire. I have joined the small team of wall-builders, where we work on the ancient stone wall at the southern end of Croome Park. During the last few weeks I have witnessed the construction of the replacement Chinese Bridge which is nearing completion.
I am building a wall.
Not a wall to keep people in,
Nor will it keep people out.
Instead it will stand as a monument
To the people who found the stones,
Who put them together, who built,
Or rebuilt, or merely passed by
Or through, or even over.
This wall has lasted for centuries,
Fumbled, and bungled.
Now showing its age
And a mixture of styles.
I despair at the use of mortar
To hold the stones together
A short cut, and one which
There are powerful forces shifting
And moving the foundations –
The oaks and the ashes,
Their roots, trunks and branches
Do their best to regain their space.
Shoving the intruder away,
Claiming their place on earth
Shunning human intrusion.
I am part of a long line of wall-builders
Who have built long lines of walls.
Pretending they’re for eternity,
But truthfully, no wall stands forever.
Now my turn to correct the errors of the past
To impose a looser style
Using the stone that lies around
In heaps, alone, or stacked.
Although I would wish for better stones,
I am limited to those right here.
As I take apart the old wall
Many of the stones split and shatter.
They will become the infill.
Serving a new purpose
Deep and blind to the world.
Ahead the wall stretches into parkland
Behind me it emerges from the forest,
But in reality, I do not know
Which is in front and which behind.
All that exists is here in the clearing,
The wall dividing the land
Where the weeds grow prolifically,
Seeking the light of summer.