I always knew there was something strange
About that farmer’s stile,
For no-one ever climbed over it
And I’d watched it for a while.
The field beyond it was out of sight
Behind a hawthorn hedge,
I didn’t know till I tried to go
It was perched along the edge.
The edge of history, edge of time,
It may have been the gate,
That hell was hidden behind in that
It saved us from our fate,
I threw a stray dog over it first
To see what would transpire,
It came back ravening, racked with thirst
And it set the hedge on fire.
I wasn’t going to risk my health
Nor even my sanity,
But somebody else would have to go
For my curiosity.
I passed young Ann in the marketplace
And I thought she’d be no loss,
I talked her into crossing the stile,
She did, at Pentecost.
Now Ann had been unattractive when
I sent her over the stile,
I didn’t hear from her straight away
But hung around for a while,
Then out from behind the hawthorn hedge
She suddenly poked her head,
A ravishing beauty Ann was now
When I’d thought she might be dead.
‘Could that be possibly you?’ I said
When I saw her pouting lips,
Her stylish sash and fluttering lash
And her painted fingertips,
I hadn’t noticed her dimples when
I’d looked at her before,
But now she was drop dead gorgeous,
And the word was, ‘I adore.’
I tried to get her over the stile
But she said to me, ‘No fear,
For everything is so beautiful
I think I’ll be staying here.’
And then if I really wanted her
I would have to cross myself,
She said there was gold and rubies there
Amid signs of untold wealth.
I conquered my inner demons and
I took the step at a run,
Leapt over the farmer’s stile to Ann,
There in the midday sun,
But all I found was a battleground
Littered with heads and hands,
The ******* of seven centuries
And a pile of old tin cans.
While Ann was dressed in a peasant gown
And had lost her pouting lips,
Her stylish sash that had turned to ash
And her coarsened fingertips,
‘What did you really expect,’ she said
As she pinned me to the ground,
‘Now you’ll be mine, though it seems unkind,
As long as the earth turns round.’
I’ve tried to escape for seven years
But I cannot find the stile,
The one that I jumped up over once
In response to her woman’s wiles.
I really thought I had played the girl
When she wasn’t much to see,
But she found me in the marketplace
And she ended playing me…
David Lewis Paget