UKArchive ID: 36152The Limes at Dulwich by gothicman
Originally published on January 29, 2016 in Poetry    

childhood home, demolished 1961

redolent ambience prevailing
I reach down
hidden between grout and brick
in silver foil
the spare mortise key!

From this spot
merely feet away
an1850’s house
rises up from its grave
fleetingly lingering to yet again
dutifully guard
curving bifurcated road

Able now to map out rooms
brother’s and sister’s
and obtruded by garages
my bedroom
where once a small boy lay
left too, bereft of a father
warmed by
shuttered coke stove

Jocular old Dr Hiley on night call
raindrops on his trilby
placing healing hands on feverish brow
for tuppence

The war just won
he said we needed every little soldier
to look after the womenfolk
Grieving too, his son at Caen

Lowood beyond
doodlebug damaged, lately
consummated with high-rise flats
where I swayed aloft even higher
on branch-borne floorboards
atoning mischief

One garden tree remains
axe-damaged Mohican oak
gash looking now like barn owl

A blackbird broadcasts my trespass
Replacing the key, I leave home
to face closure alone
at the gateless exit


© gothicman (Gothicman on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 36152
Archived comments for The Limes at Dulwich
Savvi on 29-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
quite haunting, it sure is a sad passing and you capture the whole sense of it vey well, I would cut the last line and finish on alone, as it carries the all the weight. but its just a suggestion. truly delightful.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Keith, I can see what you mean, on a last nostalgic visit as the last surviving primary family member is of course a poignant and daunting experience, but the last line emphasises the brutal openness to all to wander in where once was our private walled and gated garden, but it is also an idiom for leaving this life, death, where there are no gates needing opening to enter or closing after one has gone! The bulldozers were actually demolishing house number 3 (ours was number 1) and clearing a road at the boundary of our garden a month before we left.

Bozzz on 29-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
"A blackbird broadcasts my trespass" takes me back to my evening poaching days as my targets flee heeding the blackbird's warning and my curses out loud add to the commotion as do Andy Murray's on the tennis court. Not helpful - another game pie gone. I enjoyed this golden journey through the treasure chest of the past, ringing many bells for me. Thank you Trevor. Yours aye...David


Author's Reply:
Yes, a blackbird's warning cry is one of Nature's enduring haunting sounds, that alarms us perhaps of the fragility of small competitive life, and one that occurs thankfully at least all over our continent, along with its beautiful mating song. You, David, a poacher turned gamekeeper! Hard to imagine you hunting and cooking rabbit, pheasant, and pigeon, making pie to eek out meagre rations! Though the war presumably enforced it on country folk! But then, at this time in history, you were probably posted to some forward RAF base in the desert, servicing Sopwith Camels and Albatroses, fighting those German Fokkers (not Irish!! Hahaha! Only joking:
Thanks David, for your fine comments.

pdemitchell on 29-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
Hmm, on balance I prefer the gateless exit as it carries juxtapositon with closure reinforced again with the use of 'gateless'. The piece weeped sepia... a mantlepiece of fading post-war memories and doodlebug-damaged had a cool internal rhythm. Well done, Trevor! Paul

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Paul. Yes, that's the gist of my reply to Keith above who too is always a careful and constructive reader. Not Sepia please, I'm not that old; monochrome period, superseding sepia and in it's turn bromide! Only Bozz and Pommer, and possibly Teifli, have shoe cartons in the wardrobe full of such ancient photographic magic! Thanks again.

ifyouplease on 29-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
great ending good poem

Author's Reply:
Thank you IYP, an old one I reworded slightly, and subbed again, glad you liked it, and the ending.

Supratik on 30-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
Yes great ending Trevor! Well done. The poem reminded me of Yves Bonnefoy! Every word has been so carefully picked! Kudos!

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Supratik, I've not read his poems. You're so lucky being fluent in French as well as several other languages, being doubtlessly an extremely rewarding language to compose poems and discover them in. Nostalgic biographical poems always subjectively seem to bring out the best regarding mix of authenticity and feeling don't you think, and even when outside the time span or culture of other readers, they still mostly work? Glad you liked the strategic retreat at the end!

Ionicus on 30-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
An excellent nostalgic poem, Trevor. Well done.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Luigi. Finding the old spare door key was a factual incident, now a foot high wall with sweeping lawns towards luxury high-rise flats, then it was a single Victorian house with 8 foot high walls outside of a line of lime trees giving the house its name.

Gothicman on 31-01-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
Thanks to the kind person who nominated this poem.

Author's Reply:

Rosco on 05-02-2016
The Limes at Dulwich
A fine and touching poem without a flaw. For some reason, I would like to see the numbers out of these lines:

just five feet away
an 1850’s house

mere feet away
a hoary, decrepit house

Author's Reply:
Thank you, for your positive comments and suggestions. I think you're half-right about there being too many numbers included here, so I've made it a less accurate guess regarding judging the distance to the memorised vision of the house, but as regards the house's age, I want to keep it as it is for two reasons: the house was never 'hoary' and 'decrepit' as we lived in it until the day before it was demolished totally, leaving me with a beautiful old house impression left in memory. It went, not because it was dilapidated, a couple of houses were war-damaged, but not ours, but because the the whole area had an ancient ground lease given to the Dulwich Estate Governors, I believe by Henry VIII, and could sell the whole area off for development by offering measly compensation, which they, in my eyes unforgivably, but, non-criminally did!
The other reason is that the road, Dulwich Wood Park, and its beautiful Victorian houses, were built when the Great Empire Exhibition of 1850 in Hyde Park, was moved to Upper Sydenham to become, as it is today the Crystal Palace. (Burned down 1936). With Britain at its richest then, no expense was spared in the house constructions, each also separately architecturally designed. So the year is significant, and means a lot to me regarding house quality and design. There are no original houses left now, on either side of the road (the last, number 6, being demolished for two mock Tudor houses in c:a 1990. All are new mostly ghastly 1950's Town houses, and the high-rise flats. A tragic loss of magic character.
Thanks again.