A labour of love

I lifted the heavy weight of the grubber then dropped it into the ground, breaking up the clods, opening a seam in the soil. Sam worked ahead of me, banging in the pegs with a sledge hammer and screwing on the foundation boxing. I bent with the spade, scoop and out, and the ditch grew smoother, the space for safe foundations grew deeper.

By lunch time the next day I was so sore I didn't know what to do with my body. I couldn't dig or eat. I climbed the wire fence instead between my place and my new neighbour, the poet Brian Turner, and went up to his house for a cup of tea and succour.

"I can hardly move," I told him. So he read me a poem while we sat in the old chairs on his porch, looking out to the schist stone wall and the birds hopping among the branches of the cherry tree.