Sunday Afternoon At Bradgate Park
Of course, being a poet in residence means writing some poetry myself, as well as helping other people to write. And I have not been idle. I hope that you recognise yourself, or someone you know, in this poem…
Sunday Afternoon at Bradgate Park
There’s a lazy sun on the surface of the Lin,
the oak trees look on with casual indifference.
Ducks are dabbling for buried treasure;
tails up, beaks down in the cold water.
For the humans, there’s an ice-cream kiosk,
the tea-rooms, with their cakes and quiches…
One family has booked a pub lunch and they’re late;
one’s already walking off a roast and a pint.
There are dogs of all sizes of paw and bark and nose:
it’s Sunday afternoon in Bradgate Park.
Apart from the pines, the trees are undressed
by the weather and the winds, and the leaves are left
in fashionable colours for the season:
russet and amber, fawn and chestnut…
The conversation never ends: in English, Urdu,
between family and friends. Dad is telling another story,
and risks holding up the entire party.
Mother-in law is being brisk. Are we all here?
The traffic is jammed: entire clans disembark from people carriers:
it’s Sunday afternoon at Bradgate Park.
You can hear the secret language of toddlers on bikes,
stabilisers, brakes and stickers,
a wobbly handlebar and a purple Fruit Shoot
steering straight into the frames of pictures
being taken by a flock of photographers,
with tripods and lenses: deer in their sights
and exposure on their minds. In the gorse and the heather
at all times, in all weathers, right in the thick of it.
There’s wellies, inline wheels, silly heels, hiking boots, Nike and Clarks…
Because it’s Sunday afternoon at Bradgate Park.
There’s that bloke who cleans the windows,
a Tiger’s fan whose hair is thinning. A cyclist
with lycra buttocks, spinning his wheels in
a muddy puddle. More Bradley Walsh than Bradley Wiggins.
Here’s the volunteers, getting hot and sweaty, despite the month:
it’s heavy work on the gates and fencing, lots of tea required.
And the rangers put out fires and keep the wildlife fit and healthy. And a million
other things you don’t know about if you’re not a ranger.
And there’s Lady Jane. She kept that dark. No ghost-hunters or executions:
not on a Sunday afternoon at Bradgate Park.
What do you do when the sun goes down? Nip out the gates
before they’re closed. And leave the place to the bats
and the badgers and the beetles living in the bark.
And all the rest. They’re here all week, at Bradgate Park.