I’m writing this letter
in a garden shut-fast to us back in the day,
hungry glances over the high wall
our only chance
of glimpsing the old poet’s
courtship zone…we longed to be ushered-in,
made welcome, but previous owners
guarded their privacy…
Nowadays the place does B and B.
At last I’ve crossed the threshold
on a July afternoon
when grumpy cool wet summer
throws off its doldrums, shells out
sunshine unlimited, on tap…
…so I can tell you all about
this long-hidden garden,
There’s a green ha-ha,
we didn’t suspect that,
a monkey-puzzle tree the poet liked
and the pine he called ‘scorpion-tail’,
a fruit cage big as a row of cottages,
and a run of hens so smartly turned out and buffed
each one must have her own personal groomer,
apple trees, of course, and lime trees,
and twist paths,
one of them brings me to the look-out platform –
beyond fields and Valency valley, the sea’s soft blue tread…
That’s all I have to tell you
in this unsendable letter, written
while a busy-bee recording angel,
in a brighter higher garden,
writes our story,
weighing every word,
forgiving us our trespasses
and leading us from (or into) temptation…
And perhaps, to carry a theme
beyond its natural span,
you’re already reading both my letter,
and, over a feathered shoulder,
the angel’s edict and amen…
Penelope Shuttle has lived in Cornwall since 1970. She is the widow of the poet Peter Redgrove, (1932-2003). A biography of Redgrove, A LUCID DREAMER, authored by Neil Roberts, appears from Cape in January 2012, alongside Peter’s COLLECTED POEMS.
Her most recent collection SANDGRAIN AND HOURGLASS, appeared from Bloodaxe Books in October 2010, and was a Recommendation of The Poetry Book Society, and a poetry book of the year in The Financial Times.
A NEW AND SELECTED POEMS is forthcoming from Bloodaxe Books in Spring 2013, and UNSENT is taken from that volume.
In 2007 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry.
Shuttle’s 2006 collection, REDGROVE’S WIFE (Bloodaxe Books) was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Single Collection, and for the T S Eliot Award.
She is a Poetry Tutor for The Arvon Foundation, Almaserra Vella in Spain, Le Moulin in France, The Poetry School, Second Light Network and Ty Newydd, etc.
She has been a judge for many major poetry competitions.
She is currently taking a ‘gap year’ from her tutoring work, but will continue to give readings.