Farm Sale, North Yorkshire

by Hilary Jenkins

The old farm with its pink windows is for sale
on the far side of our valley and always magical,
but now close to, I see the casements are rotting, a sad
red, roof and gutters sag like the old iron bedstead,
unlotted, just hauled into the yard.
Inside the ceilings curl down, a nest, not this year’s, in the grate
of the range, in the shippons manure become peat.

Somebody’s garden hints between nettles, brambles, elders,
while in the sale field , laid in rows, the centuries
of family and farm- the milk churns supplanted
by the tanker, a 48 egg incubator (patented),
horse tackle for everything the Victorians invented
seven variously able-bodied tractors,
(the crowd slowly dragging round the auctioneers)

bicycles, a three-legged stool, and a blanket box
lined with the Sheffield Evening News from 1866,
when a house maid and cook, and a French widow lady
all go to a dealer, and he also outbids me
for the pancheon, big enough to bathe a baby,
and scrap metal merchants will get the rest
to be sorted melted and lost.

Was I thinking of the bowl, and how
to start the next batch, a portion of dough
was kept, for I went back later
and found in a skip a mirror
for my kitchen, and a keepsake,
Pilgrim’s Progress, the school, the child, still stuck
inside, to carry home, smelling of mould and mice,
starter for my journey in and through this place.