One Poem by Rennie Halstead

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Bethnal Green 1890

They laughed at me when I planted my back yard,
an apple tree, a patch of turf from home
carried in a willow basket,
wet with moss, a living memory,
rich wet clay bursting with grass,
white campion, ribwort, yarrow,
bringing the country here,
brightening these forbidding slums,
dark graveyard terraces,
sterile, noisy, crowded,
bustling with poverty,
teeming with a different life.

I longed for the cottage in Kent,
the rolling Downs, the meadows,
latticed hop gardens, cherry,
apple and pear blossom softly pink
stretching east and west across the Downs.

He never understood, my town boy,
had never tasted milk fresh from the cow,
butter glistening from the churn,
fresh water sparkling from the well,
eggs still warm from the nest,
apples crisp from the trees.

I left the day my mother died,
leaving me her cottage,
gathered my children,
walked out of the city
shook the dust off my shoes,
rode wagons and carts,
taking a week to reach my home,
find my life again.

He came once, to try my country life,
couldn’t settle,
deafened by birdsong,
he left for the grime he called home.


Rennie has been writing since he was eleven. He writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. You can find his poetry on his ello site at:

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