The professor departed
professor has mended the gate,
but the hand that did patch it
will no more unlatch it
for the man whose arts would renovate
so much of his family estate
with a grace that was well borne
has gone back to
(though not till he’d mended the gate).
toolbox will again hibernate.
The shower curtain’s slipping,
the kitchen tap’s dripping
and the cupboard doors droop, desolate.
The wallpaper pleads “decorate!”
In the loft full of lumber
in the house with no number
waits the paint that still ain’t on the gate.
gone, but he’s left us his mate,
so the garden’s well-watered,
the gin bottle’s quartered
and there’s plenty of food on the plate.
Though these things do not quite compensate,
his grandchildren remember
he’ll be back (next September?)
and they never do swing on the gate.
Written for Colin Duckworth on his departure from London for Melbourne after his regular English summer in 1994.