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NOEL KING

 

 

 

v

Noel King was born and still lives in Tralee. He has published three poetry collections with Salmon: Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons, (2015). As an editor, he has published more than fifty books by various authors with Doghouse Books (2003 – 2013). He also served as poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. His short story collection, The Key Signature & Other Stories, was published by Liberties Press in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Hedge Setter

 

 

They gave you that job. You learned

to know a good sapling, how deep to plant it,

how much space to leave between its neighbour and it.

 

You made two runs either side of the path

to your parents’ front door,

protected them with lettuce wire at first

from the playful puppies, Ella and Jake,

your uncle from town brought to be raised.

 

You grew as your hedges grew,

stubble, a beard came on your face,

you used your father’s clippers to clip your hedges;

before Tralee Races you took particular care to manicure

them as the racing traffic must pass your place.

 

You were seventeen the day the man in heavy boots

marched between your hedges and planted

the dream in you to join the Navy.

Your mother cried. Your father talked to someone

who got you a local job; a hardware business.

 

You were twenty-four when you linked your youngest sister

in her wedding gown, the path not wide enough for two,

her dress picking up baby leaves of green;

the greens falling off the dress again

as you handed her into the waiting Mercedes

and the old dogs, Ella and Jake, barked after you with excitement.

 

One morning in 1987, our world woke here

to find a coat of orange dust fallen like snow overnight.

The worried claimed it was ash cloud from Chernobyl,

that we would all get cancer from inhaling it.

Scientists said it was a natural occurrence.

In any case the next rainfall washed it off your hedges.

 

Today, you’ve passed away, the undertakers shouldered

your coffin down the path between your hedges,

the hedge tops level with their elbows.

 

 

©2018 Noel King

 

 

Author Links

 

Author's website

Sons - King's 2015 collection published by Salmon

Other work by this author in Southword

 

 

 

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