House and Field

When Granny and Grandpa sold the old farmhouse
and gave up their subscription to The Field,
boxes of junk arrived for Dad to house
and soon mildewed editions of The Field
were stacked in every corner of our house.
We should have made a bonfire in the field
or said there was no shelf-space in the house
for such an archive (decades of The Field
whose glossy cow/dog/pheasant/country house/
snow-covered moor/frost-furrowed field
front photographs put life in our dull house
to shame) but for a while I’d take The Field
with me to bed, reading romantic house-
for-sale particulars as tiny field-
mice shivered through the walls inside the house
and owls protested in the moonlit field.
A different life for every different house
addressed me from the pages of The Field
(bread and roses in a Devon long-house,
civil war beside a battlefield,
a lakeshore lodge with steps down to a boat-house,
or a cottage with a pony-field)
but I’d have left our three-dimensioned house
and time-warped over juddering force-fields
to travel back to Granny and Grandpa’s house,
its garden open onto barley-fields
cut into bricks of straw. From their last house
they moved in quick succession to the field
behind the church and Dad cleared out our house.
He packed up every copy of The Field
and left them to the rats in an outhouse
that leant a little closer to the field
whenever it rained. It was my wendy house
but now its timbers rot into the field
as surely as the walls of Dad’s big house
shrink to a room that looks across the field.
I’m not allowed to help about the house
or mow the thistles flowering in the field,
and when his body is an empty house
he wants his ashes scattered in the field,
hoping house and field will never be sold.