Oliver writes: These are part of a ‘calendar’ of 12 poems set in Pitshanger Park, near where I live in Ealing. The Park is a place of leisure, but also a setting where small and large histories play out and which is not protected from the mayhem around.
Smoke from a private bonfire seeps through an elevated hedge and into this public space. Twigs, leaves and other cuttings contribute to a burnt offering at the season’s turning. Dog walking at dusk, there are these clouds of you as well, floating above the quiet oaks. We used to talk about the visual equivalent of silence, but it never quite materialised.
The fence post stands here, revealed each winter when dank earth accepts a dose of finished leaves and decades after railings of which it was a part were ripped and taken for a weapons foundry. It seems some degree of unintended convenience will have been created, removing a cast iron barrier between this footpath and that carefully managed recreation ground, access restricted after hours. Why would they have left this iron pole alone, in a lost and hidden corner? Days might ebb and flow across its durable surface, but nothing rectifies intrusions which neither grow nor perish.
What Might Have Occurred
There they are again, as dusk descends, sitting on a familiar bench, where shadows between one pool of lamplight and the next push back that other darkness gathering around them. The journey here was not without its terrors. They trust what they recall, believe nothing more has been revealed, but whether theirs is the only narrative has not been challenged. Media content highlights degrees of mayhem. Evidence from the aftermath does not explain exactly what occurred to trigger those events. Some trees beyond conceal a miniature river.