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at Hotel Chevillon, Grez-sur-Loing
A walnut tree grows in the corner of the garden
and, in the centre, two rows of chestnut trees and limes
run down to the river's edge. The trees may be old
but they carry the years with grace. It's February,
the sky clear, the day cold and bright. The trees are bare,
but, on soft ground, I find the husks of last year's spring -
chestnuts and walnut shells. Some of the old lime seeds
made it over the garden wall and gather in drifts
in the gutter of the bridge; a tiny fruit attached
to each dry bract. Every one of these, once, has flown!
Once too a lively crowd gathered beneath these trees.
How they loved that time; it was summer and they ate
under fluttering leaves, as oars splashed and costumes
dried in the sun. So close they were to the water,
to the river streaming under the bridge. And the ducks -
no reason to suppose ducks any less amusing than now.
Today, it is still winter, yet you can see buds
forming at the end of the lime trees' most tender twigs.
In spring, they'll unfurl soft-green, heart-
shaped leaves and their shadows dance like the water.
[Certain words and images drawn from RLS's 'Memories of Fontainebleau', 1892]
Tom Pow was born in Edinburgh and lives in Dumfries. He teaches part-time on Lancaster University's Distance Learning Masters in Creative Writing and is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University Dumfries. Primarily a poet, several of his collections have won awards and three have been short-listed for Scottish Book of the Year. He has also written young adult novels, picture books, radio plays and a travel book about Peru. He was the first Writer in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (2001-2003) and in 2013, he was Bartholomew Writer in Residence at the National Library of Scotland. A Wild Adventure, Thomas Watling Dumfries Convict Artist, will be published in June; and in August, Concerning the Atlas of Scotland and Other Poems, based on his work at the NLS (both books published by Polygon).
"The fellowship offers the opportunity to think through and to work on a project on narrative poetry which has been on my mind for a considerable time. I also like to think there is some indefinable benefit resting and working in the shadow of a writer I have both loved and written about."