Scrub and Land Rent by Jessica Mookherjee

The Garden of England is full of fence posts,

notices that warn deep water, danger of death

keep out. Here are private places, golf courses

for members only, not for casual strollers,

Hidden acres of lush lawn and sweet chestnuts.

 

Our scrub of ground stinks of rot,

is fly-full, digesting dank pools,

where wild garlic lounge in the growth

and balsam beds where it can. All over-run

the common ground where we can walk our dogs.

 

Our small houses stand shoulder to

shoulder with limestone and wild roses. Its ground

is worm-feted, encasing pipes and wires.

Paths are owned by a company that no one knows.

We only own the right to pannage pigs.

 

They tell us we must pay to enter our homes.

These deeds happened before the law forgot us,

someone’s chief put markers on good soil, this is yours

this is mine and taxed these boundaries with

rules made by their priests and kings.

 

The land is rent in tatters, scarred by laylandi,

road markers and hedgerows of fences across our plots

where some self entitled lord once pissed

and forced the weak onto rubble and scrub to gather

acorns and fuck in buttercups.

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