Northwords Now Issue 35

The FREE literary magazine of the North


by Seth Crook

Eggs for sale:
beside a farm gate,
beside a daubed sign.
Please Put Your Money in the Box.

Every Thursday I pull up,
select my half a dozen. Large.
Drop in my cash. Exact.

Until there's little room for coins.
Fresh eggs keep arriving,
No money goes.
Metal climbs on metal.

I start a tower of fifty pences.
I bring a cardboard sign,
“Dear crofter, pick up your cash”.
But no pick up.

Eggs keep arriving.
The tower topples.
The board turns soggy,

One morning: I've had enough.
Time to swing the gate;
follow the ruts.

Nothing much.
I pass a fallen byre full of bracken;
outlines of lazy beds,
no sheep, no cattle, a clan
of pert marsh orchids.

Until I reach a ruined croft house.
No car, no council bin, no caravan.
Only a rusty spud spinner,
the reel still hanging.

So I enter, where the door should be,
see small bags lying about.
Inside: more coins and notes.
  "Hey, here's your money."

  "You need to start picking it up, man."
  "Good eggs, but your box is full."
  "Dear Sir/Madam, for many weeks..."

Draw pouches, canvas sacks,
wren-sided farthings,
embossed envelopes from the 1950s,

threepenny bits, sixpences,
Edwardian pennies,
the ageing faces of Queen Victoria.