The Conker Tree

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When I last walked down this lane
I was just a boy
Short trousered and muddy kneed.
The puddles were much deeper then
The muddy water splashing
With adventure
And a drowned mouse,
Beyond revival.

The blossom and the nettle scent
Have caught me now
But then it was stingers and the frantic search
For dock leaves
To relieve the pain,
And there beyond the hedge
the conker tree
where Peter fell.

The biggest ones are at the top
He always said.
He was the bravest climber
But sadly fortune
Does not always favour
In the crash of falling branches.

A crowd of villagers
Silently assembled as if
Taking guard.
The ambulance came with just a bell jangling
And on a bike, a policeman
Looking stern, asking, writing names down
Around the bloodied corpse
That was once a boy.

So I’m walking down the lane
And fifty years have gone
But Peter isn’t here, just the same old conker tree
Which somehow looks much larger
And quite alone like me,
As I think of fifty years he missed
And all for conkers,
conkers that were no bigger at the top.

Pat Ladbrooke

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