Vox Populi

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Sandy Solomon: Yalding, Kent

Inside my friends’ house (in the 18thcentury,  

a shop), I wake to the clank, clank, clank

of the blacksmith’s hammer hard against iron,

yellow orange, I imagine, from the forge. 


In this part of town, much dates from long 

ago.  My friends’ red back door opens 

to the graveyard where thin, grayed slabs

tilt above ragged tufts of grass, 


inscriptions rubbed away by years of weather. 

Nearby, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church

rises on ground so high the floods can’t reach it— 

well, they haven’t reached it yet. 


Those medieval master church builders chose

the safest spots. In the last Medway flood,

water lapped at my friends’ stoop where they’d piled

their useless sandbags, but the river never


crossed the threshold. Lucky. On the other 

side of the road, brown water eddied 

through sitting rooms for days, past

Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s.


Neighbors helped save one woman’s new

washer, carried upstairs before the river 

breached, but her new hardwood floor, just laid

after the last dousing, buckled and ruined.


My friends know the next flood is coming.

And the next. We pause to study the high water

mark on the whitewashed wall opposite

before we cross the medieval stone bridge—


one lane wide, but open to cars and trucks.

The bridge’s strong back arches and arches 

over the flow of water, addled and scant,

an implausible threat, like rumors of trouble,


warming days, warmest recorded months.

We slip our coats off in the midday sun.

Who could not enjoy this fine weather?

I’ve bought my friends a horseshoe to hang above 


the door. We discuss which way to hang it. 

One school of thought advises open side down 

so luck pours over all who pass. 

The other says, No! Nail the horseshoe— 


its cold, hammered curl of weight—open

side up lest good luck drain away.

The only way to know which theory holds

is to take a chance. We’re laughing: clueless.

Copyright 2019 Sandy Solomon

Oast Houses on the River Medway, Yalding

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2019 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , .

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