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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 3, September 2015

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Geoffrey Winch
Felpham, West Sussex, England


For God So Loved the Garden[i]

Elegant Miss Wass is fair. She drives her own chariot; has city friends, and dresses in according to the fashion. She is fond of sport and, as she toys and shoves [ii], she knows no end to joy and lust:

she admires
masters of the arts
parleys with her tongue
for money
she loves [iii]

Posters announce Edward Burne-Jones is dead. Miss Cartwright—lover of the arts—loves the Opera and Wagner but, tonight, she hears nothing but Wotan wailing over Brünnhilde. When it’s all over she cannot face the thought of taking a hansom cab home—

she walks
the length of Long Acre
head in the stars
with the painter
she loves [iv]

We traipse up and down the aisles, heads giddy with aromas of the world. Foot-weary and having seen it all, we stand in awe in this sea of fruit and veg: plums and peas, bananas and beans, cherries, cauliflowers, limes and lettuces—

we sample a pear
but still
it’s the apples that tempt
English apples
we love [v]

He executes with panache a three ball flash then shrugs his shoulders as if to say ‘simple stuff’, so grabs an unlit torch and with it scribes a wide arc—an invisible wall for us to stand behind. He sets the torch and nine more alight and tosses them in the air. We enjoy watching his cascades and showers; we admire his skill until

one torch
breaks loose
and the audience gasps!—
ah, how he knows it—it’s danger
we love [vi]

The US embassy is being evacuated and it’s panic in Saigon—another night of this city in uproar in Drury Lane. Again Kim is in despair and Chris is yelling to make her hear above the racket of the helicopter. When she spots him we’re relieved, but then dismayed as we watch his friend, John, wrestle him inside.

the ‘copter lifts off
and he can only watch
as Kim and the city fall
crying out
for love [vii]

The trundling lift slows to a stop and the doors concertina apart. Uplifted by the evening’s potential, Geoff escapes the underground crush, thrusts himself into Long Acre and hurries along to Betterton Street:

down the stairs
into the basement
into the crush
crammed with words
poets love [viii]

Here, where generations cross paths harmoniously; here, where Charles Fowler’s old Market Building still reminds us and itself what it was and, for many, still remains; here, where Tim is making his way through the scene he’ll capture on canvas

where a didgeridoo
enchants the air
here, in the heart of it,
the word artists paint
is love [ix]


Author’s Notes:
[i] Covent Garden, until 1552 ‘the garden of Westminster Abbey and Convent.’
[ii] toy: to sport amorously, flirt; shove: to put surreptitiously or improperly in (SOED).
[iii] Based on Miss Wa–s, Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, 1793.
[iv]Based on Julia Cartwright’s (Mrs Henry Ady’s) diary entries, 1898.
[v] Childhood memory, c.1950 (The fruit and vegetable market, 1830-1974).
[vi] A regular street entertainer, c. 1985.
[vii] The musical, Miss Saigon, played at The Theatre Royal 1989-1999.
[viii] Reading at The Poetry Café, 2009.
[ix] Based on Timothy Hyman’s painting, Down into Covent Garden, 2009-14.

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