The Gate

The gate was bolted into the archway.
But there was a low wall beside it
by which you could enter the garden.

This didn’t stop many from trying it.
We heard it rattling all through the night.

In the morning we found the parcels,
soaked by rain, ripped half open by animals,
the addresses impossible to read.

If it was important enough to rattle the gate all night,
you’d have jumped the wall,
you’d have brought them up to the house.

They were the usual,
plastic toys and costume jewellery.

We left them,
hoping they would be taken
by children in the neighbourhood.

We bolted the gate.

The raspberry patch had gone wild
and the path was overgrown.

The old tricycle used to make a racket
as if it was going to shake itself to bits
as we clattered over the stones and pitted concrete,

and through the weeds which grew in the cracks,
on its solid metal rims.

We used to open the gate and freewheel
down the road together at top speed.

When we got home we’d slam the gate
shut behind us with enough force to leave it
quivering on its iron hinges like a giant tuning-fork.

If it made a note,
it was too low for us to hear.

Even in those days the raspberry wands would try and
grab us and hook our shorts and jerseys
when we ran past.

The lion looked up the street.
It was made of plaster, a spare,
in case one of the four shipped up to Hawkes Bay
for the fountain should break in transit.

It sat on the arch above the gate.
It was quite impressive

and was probably the reason
people tried the gate rather
than risked jumping over the wall
and waking it up.

It would never move, however, until the end of time,
unless its plaster core started leaking
through its concrete shell.

But, at least in our lifetimes, we hoped
that that would never happen.