The Coney

Although I have never learned to mow
I suddenly found myself half-way through
Last year’s pea-sticks
And cauliflower stalks
In our half-acre of garden.
My father had always left the whetstone
Safely wrapped
In his old, tweed cap
And balanced on one particular plank
Beside the septic tank.

This past winter he had been too ill
To work. The scythe would dull
So much more quickly in my hands
Than his, and was so often honed,
That while the blade
Grew less and less a blade
The whetstone had entirely disappeared
And a lop-eared
Coney was now curled inside the cap.
He whistled to me through the gap

In his front teeth;
‘I was wondering, chief,
If you happen to know the name
Of the cauliflowers in your cold-frame
That you still hope to dibble
In this unenviable
Bit of ground?’
‘They would be All the Year Round.’
‘I guessed as much’; with that he swaggered
Along the diving-board

And jumped. The moment he hit the water
He lost his tattered
To the swimming pool’s pack of dogs.
‘Come in’; this flayed
Coney would parade
And pirouette like honey on a spoon:
‘Come on in; Paddy Muldoon.’
And although I have never learned to swim
I would willingly have followed him.

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The Coney