A New Wall by Paul Elwell

After walking miles of timeworn pathways
Between the greying lines of dry stone walls,
Straggling hedgerows and convenient stiles,
In a field, damp with winter rain, we came
Upon a couple laying stones, building
A new wall. This I had not seen before,
So stopped a while to watch them as they worked,
Hoping to fathom some deep mysteries,
To learn secrets known by ancient builders.
So many questions I would have asked, but
Knew they must have answered them to many
Others as ignorant as me, and would
Smile and politely indulge my idle
Curiosity, while wishing to get
On with building their wall. And a fine wall
It was – upright and proud, taking its place,
Like the others all around. Except it
Was not like the others. The pale golden
Stone, each carefully laid, was hopelessly
Out of place among its weathered neighbours,
With their imperfections from ravages
Of wind and rain; and clumps of nettles and
Briars gratefully sheltering beside.
I admired this new wall; but soon tired
Of it and moved on because it had no
Conversation. I’ll be returning to
This field, this wall, a hundred years from now.