On History’s Great Estate

A ragged regiment of leeks was left
to guard the plot. Green soldiers
leaning like drunks on air so cold it felt solid,

they turned their backs on the bones
of fruit trees tied to a wall, limbs outflung,
forced into almost human postures.

We walked winter’s vast estate
until our boots were worth their weight in mud,
and yet the distant folly refused to draw closer.

The tower looked down on us,
the slits of its windows never blinking.
Had they seen how many servants had been required,

two hundred years ago, to move the earth,
clod by clod, until a lake appeared?
Last night some ghostly chill of a chambermaid

had smoothed a freezing sheet across it,
turning the corner down as she’d been taught.
What crawled into that cold bed in the dark?