Rebecca Gethin’s shed



In a disused game-keeper’s hut

A stream dashes past in a deep cleft. From inside,
all she hears is waterfall. Dark as the garden
at night, a mesh covers the grimy window.

No-one will guess. She sweeps the dust, runs outside
to gasp. It settles back like things she’s heard said.
She pokes feathers she’s found into cracks between planks.

Outside, a jay cackles. The woods are as green
and gold as pheasants. There’s nowhere else.
For company she borrows a glass bowl, fills it with water,

puts in stones and water weed, scoops up frogspawn
from a pool – the jelly clings to her fingers,
the pulsing specks eye her. Placing this beside

the light she shuts the door behind her, leaving it
exactly as it was. She can’t answer what she can’t hear.
All that summer the dust leaks must.

In winter she shoves the door open to find a bowl
of dried tadpoles – when they slide around
they clink, like small beads.

Rebecca won her first writing competition at the age of ten with an essay on rabbits for the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society. Early precocity was swamped by children, work, the fever of everyday life and she forgot what she had originally wanted to be: 45 years were to pass before she won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award with her first novel, which was published in 2011. Her first poetry collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her second, A Handful of Water is published by Cinnamon Press. She has worked as a creative writing tutor in a prison and currently works as a freelance creative writing tutor and writer. Rebecca blogs at http://rebeccagethin.wordpress.com/

3 thoughts on “Rebecca Gethin’s shed”

  1. Oh Becky! I’m so pleased to see here and reread this shed/ hut poem of yours. It’s one of my many favourites from your “A Handful of Water” collection. It strikes me again how well you show us a scene and a person — and we sense so much about this child and her loneliness. Dramatic ending. Just realizing this time around what a good title. And thanks Abi for this Shed Series you are hosting. Wonderful!

  2. “It settles back like things she’s heard said”. Love this line – and “She can’t answer what she can’t hear”. There’s such a lot to read into this poem and the ending – made me want to rescue the child and the tadpoles. Thanks for this – strong writing – another intriguing shed poem.

  3. I really like the way you’ve caught child’s time – so intent in the moment, but a season later, dried tadpoles shoved away with the door. Yet ‘there’s nowhere else’ that summer, her whole world in a shed. And even better to play in as it’s not hers!

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