It is an old picture.
From a village called Wishford Minor,
not far from Stonehenge, mostly lost,
not a destination, except perhaps for you,
the first place you stayed in a country
other than your own.
It did not feel foreign. And perhaps it is not.
After all they speak a semblance of the same language
you were raised on.
Or at least, partially raised, The other part
came from the books on your grandfather’s
and your great aunt’s shelves, books of another time
where language and images were more….
well today they call it romantic. Or formal.
Pictures of castles and villages and English gardens
filled your head before your first trip brought you there.
There were gardens fit for any romance,
wild and overgrown, pinks and reds and oranges
all scattered mish-a-mash in a florid riot.
Not just one, but every old home,
each older than your own country,
were flush with color.
There was ivy. Of course there was ivy.
What postcard would be complete without it.
The ivy reminded me of my childhood,
working with my father in the yard,
ripping ivy from the walls and trees,
determined to keep it in it’s place,
on the ground, where it belonged.
This ripping of the ivy was an annual event.
But here, in Wishford Minor, ivy reigned.
It runs over fences and climbs walls,
peers into windows. A life form unlike
the dull green leaves I was raised with.
chopped back each season to a dull perfection
A reminder that often the most beautiful things
are so only when we stop trying to control them.
I took the picture.
Forty years later, the lesson is still with you,
a creature more of wonder than control,
always walking in wonder at where everything will go
About this poem.
Mostly Autobiographical. Wishford Minor is a real village. I have stayed my first night in England there every time I have been.