We are neighbours and friends across a generation, and a fence.
Our houses, laid-out in mirror stance:
the 1870’s fancy of Mr Cousin that infinitesimal builder,
built himself so fiery red.
It is long since our lost cousin made his Victorian bed.
Seven years ago this summer, our neighbour’s wife died.
That spring, I recall seeing her at the door
in the mirrored reflection of a doctor’s eye:
she could not walk.
Her husband, dear neighbour, had to support her.
My mirror was useless.
My neighbour’s wife had not broken her leg,
no longer proud of diagnosing ‘little Ali’s’ break,
tears – no more than manganese and gravity
as neighbour told me that his wife had cancer;
that she was hobbling to her Strathcarron bed.
Later that summer, my neighbour arose every morning and dug,
a beautiful circular bed.
For his wife he filled this bed with roses.
For several years they were colourful and beautiful;
but the roses, in the shadow of Mossgrove life,
Not quite ‘Ten Summers’ have since passed,
and ‘That Summer’ is still as real to me
as the flower bed my neighbour made.
So I raised my own sleeper bed just for summers.
Yesterday, from the mirror, I spotted my neighbour digging – early yet again:
digging out the scraggy roses from his wife’s bed.
Today my neighbour is sowing grass,
where once we had summer and flowers
and both our beds are made.
Written by Peter J. Gordon, April 2011
- William Cousin was a Victorian builder. He was small, red-haired and fiery in temper. He was Captain of the horse-drawn fire engine. He built the house Peter and family now live in. He also built our neighbours house.
- ‘little Ali’ – a child knocked down by a car outside our house. She broke her leg and made a full recovery
- ‘Ten Summers fade’ was the book written about the history of Bridge of Allan by Peter J. Gordon
- ‘That Summer’ is a favourite novel by Andrew Greig.