and in the shop…
“The Beginnings of Trees”
Vieux Berquin 1918
He tried to crumble the earth but it stuck to his fingers.
Clay, he thought, needs compost, fine peat mixed with …
he didn’t want to think of blood and bone
as he bent to clear the stones, the few blades of grass,
the bits of metal casings, ready to sow the seeds.
Packets of larkspur, sweet peas, she’d sent him
He could hear the rats feed, their little teeth
gnawing; had seen men fall to pieces, young men
who wrote and painted, their canvases unprimed,
their notebooks open, only the rain to mark their place.
He took a single seed, then another, planted sweet peas
against the wire, scattered larkspur where he knelt.
He wanted the colour to survive. Afterwards
they said, it had occupied his mind.
The ‘Artists’ Rifles’ Regiment then was composed of painters, sculptors,
musicians, architects, actors and members of other artistic occupations.