I like to come here in July,
to leave behind the shimmering slopes,
the white horse, the soft sun-warmed shoulders of the Downs.
I love to open the door
to this low, glass cathedral to high husbandry.
The pitched roof stretches out ahead in several compartments,
taking excellence to infinity – all neat, all perfect.
I breathe the sweet, heavy, earthy fragrance
of chlorophyll and spice,
the musk of tomatoes hanging above, entwined
with the cloying notes of cyclamen below.
The air carries heat and damp.
And there is more:
the sweat of gardeners over time,
sulphur, copper, tobacco, wet sand, tarred string.
A tangible essence of tradition, endeavour, love.
I have to capture this.
I have to render the perfume, the symmetry and
the perfection of it all before I am overcome.
I shall call it
‘The Greenhouse – Cyclamen and Tomatoes’.
Charlie Bell’s poem was inspired by the Simon Patterson exhibition. He is a freelance writing tutor and poet living and working around Tunbridge Wells. As well as teaching for Adult Education and the University of Kent, he works in community settings with disadvantaged groups. He is currently collecting together several pamphlets of poetry. He can be found at http://www.writing-hut.com