The Orchard Underground was published in the anthology for the Haddon Library Poetry Competition (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and subsequently in Clare’s collection The Shape of Us (Shoestring Press, 2010).
The Orchard Underground
Plaster walls creak in temperate weather,
bunches of lavender hang from the beams.
Hands have woven reeds to thatch,
turned willows to baskets, shored up grain
against the river, tamed the myth of storms.
At the door of the house, the spirits of cats
watch over: arrivals of friends, departures of children.
Whoever crosses the lintel will be guided
by their acrobatic bones, liquid eyes, black tails
disappearing around stone corners
among a pilgrimage of shoes.
Outside, the garden slopes away
above an orchard underground.
Trees buried in shell-grain, oaks preserved
in marshes where they fell, throw up circles
from roots reaching through fossils
to an inland sea that keeps all the drowned.
Loch keepers and Fen children sail in
caves and green tunnels, fish eyes painted
on their boats, with the ghosts of apple men
and their wives, swimming and fishing
to the world’s core.
Not so far to cast a silver net
reach out to touch the grain,
into all the caverns of the earth,
the palaces of trees: and keep them close.
The ash casts a broad shadow.
Flint and chalk shore up the yard,
moths blunder in across a threshold ringed with light.
For more of Clare’s readings, see Poem Readings. And you can also find Clare’s readings of her poems for the Waterlight Project at that project’s site.
All poems © Estate of Clare Crossman