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Apple Trees on the Somme

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 APPLE TREES
I was reading “The Ghost Road”,
With its constant theme of father-son relationships,
And,
Reflecting on the past,
I glanced up at the apple trees in the back garden,
And was surprised at how thick the trunks had become,
And realised how much had happened
In the ten years since planting them,
How my children had grown,
In the ten years since I planted them
In that cold March spring;
And this hot first day of July,
The anniversary of the Battle of the Somme,
We kicked a ball across the no mans’ land between the two trees,
And the book and the war and the trunks and the ball,
Took me back to my grand-dad’s,
A survivor of the Great War.
I remembered his fruit trees,
Old fashioned russets,
And the apples,
All stored in boxes under the bed;
I remembered trespassing guiltily into his varnished bedroom,
As a five year old boy
When I first went to his house,
And I stood and stared, surprised,
As I smelt the autumn mist of apples under a bed,
Apples under a bed!
I stood and sniffed and stared
And recognised
The different ways of a different generation,
And knew my place.
My grandparents moved shortly afterwards,
To a cottage with a lot more apple trees,
And I now slept in the varnished bedroom,
And it was my job every autumn to clamber up the apple trees
And bring the apple harvest home
For mum and dad.
Then Granddad died,
And we chopped one of his trees down,
(Dad wanted to move the greenhouse so as to have space for a patio,
And that meant winter death for the vine)
But every year, the vine still grew out from that new patio
On the spot where the greenhouse used to be,
Which was on the spot where the Anderson bomb shelter used to be;
You see,
Different generations use space differently –
And now my apple trees are getting older,
And now my daughters get bolder and challenge me,
As they study my old fashioned ways.
But I get bolder too,
Which is why I will still be clambering up my mum’s apple trees,
To get the russets in this autumn,
And to remember my gramp,
And my dad,
And how similar,
Not different,
We were,
Or is it
Are?

July 1st. 1916, over the top and into death.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/apple-trees-on-the-somme/