Grantham Market Cross and Conduit

by | Jul 24, 2006 | Poetry | 0 comments

I remember, a long time ago,
the stream used to bubble by,
fed by the spring, and in turn
feeding the Market Place pump –
but that was long ago:
there used to be a trough
and a horse-mounting block;
and I could watch the rainwater
glistening on the cobblestones.
I could watch the people
huddled against wind, or the rain,
or lounging on my stone in the sun.

I remember the old workman
in his corduroy breeches,
with his cart and shovel;
shovelling the horse dung
from the Market Place
to sell at a penny a bucketful
to the ‘fancy’ flower growers.
I remember the old women
coming to Market to gossip
and to buy and to sell.
Old men and young men,
the farmers and their labourers,
gathered outside the Market Inn,
talking of land and weather,
comparing the stock prices
and John Merriweather’s Shire.

I remember the peace of early morning;
the villagers readying their market stalls
and the arrival of foreign traders:
then the quickening pace, as people
arrive to buy; to argue; to bargain.

I remember watching as the day waned
and the people began to leave,
and the stalls were tidied away,
and I was left to stand in peace.

I remember watching men marching,
a flowering tide of khaki,
and the sound of too joyous music,
a little later a weeping man.

Long years have I stood here,
watching the change from horse to car;
from mud-tracks to tar-macadam;
watching the sunless days,
with their brightless ways;
felt people: sitting, standing, walking;
feeling time wearing my stonework
as surely as any rainstorm.
I mark the old Market Place:
the crossing of the ways,
where, once, water was gathered;
the well and the stream are interred;
now stands a stone folly, inscribed:
“Town Conduit – 1597”
stained, worn and waterless,
like me, another old landmark,
to be viewed, only by tourists:
walked round;
sat upon;
and forgotten…


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