First Steps, by Ian Fletcher
The scene is a vegetable garden
on an immaculate springtime morning.
At the back there is a white-walled cottage
fronted by a blossoming apple tree
with freshly-washed sheets hanging on a line.
A wooden wheelbarrow, gate and fence,
the soft earth turned and furrowed by the spade,
show nature harnessed but not exploited
by the worthy toil of a long-vanished age.
The father and mother are dressed in blue
matching the azure of the firmament
the mother bending over to support the child
while the father pauses from his labors
and on one knee crouches rooted to the ground
his arms outstretched like the child’s who must
traverse the expanse of land between them
to earn an embrace with loving praise.
His daughter is the apple of his eye
bringing ample meaning to a life
of tilling the soil until the day he dies.
This sentimental picture speaks volumes
still for in the drama of its pastoral
it seems to exist in the land of dreams
the countryside of the imagination
an idyllic world that might never have been
yet which captures the spirit of humanity
in this vignette of domestic felicity.
You may say it’s just a painting but I know
that nowhere in the realms of infinite space
could mankind discover so sweet a place
as van Gogh’s garden beneath the apple tree
and the love between this humble family.
Born and raised in Cardiff, Wales, Ian has an MA in English from Oxford University. He lives in Taiwan with his wife, two daughters and cat. He teaches English in a high school. He has had poems and short stories published in The Ekphrastic Review, 1947 A Literary Journal, Dead Snakes, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me, Anotherealm, Under the Bed, A Story In 100 Words, Poems and Poetry, Friday Flash Fiction, and in various anthologies.
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