Remembering Heligan

by Brigid Sivill

Maybe we wanted to be taken for fishermen
in our sou’westers and wellington boots,
long yellow oilskins flapping over our legs
in driving Cornish rain.
 
When you live in woods winter mud is constant;
giving the oilskins a fringe of dried mud
that cracked as we walked.
 
Oilskins – authentic ones that is –
when old, crack; fillets of yellow skin lift,
leave behind thick canvas scars.
In summer heat, rolled and forgotten.
 
When I rolled up Cornwall, its rain and mud,
smell of woodsmoke and damp bushes,
mould in dark cupboards
and the reek of paraffin stove
 
all that was left –
those smells,
clinging,
to that yellow coat.