After Gardening: Quotidien Gesture

Alan Hollinghurst
poem "Mud"
appearing in the
London Review of Books
Vol. 4 No. 19 · 21 October 1982

November was always mud.
Crossing a ploughed field
our feet grew footballs of clay;
matted with leaves its crust
dropped on bootroom floors.
Its odour was sharp and cold
as rockets' nitre, cold as
gardeners' hands daubing the hot tap.
I like how one verb - daub - keeps the scene poised over the moment the mud will be washed away. The poem ends with the "grave's edge" and a close-up of how the mud "curls up / round our polished black welts" and an image of intimations of death rising with chill through the soles of feet. Still it's that hand reaching for the tap that arrests.

And so for day 2129