David Lewis Paget
The Prince in the Garden Shed
I’d see strange lights in the garden shed
When I’d wake in the early hours,
Hanging out of the bedroom window,
Blowing smoke at the stars,
I wasn’t allowed to smoke inside
So I’d hang out over the sill,
Whenever I’d wake at three o’clock
With the world so quiet and still.
Light would stream from a dozen cracks
Where the timber didn’t fit,
The beams would light up the garden beds
With the rest of the patch unlit.
I’d listen hard for a movement there
But without the bedroom light,
Though nothing stirred in the shed out there
But the silence of the night.
To tell the truth I was just too scared
To go down and investigate,
The lights went off at four o’clock
On the dot, and never late,
I’d wait a while and go back to bed
But I very rarely slept,
While Constance lay with her back to me
As her innocence was kept.
I didn’t tell her about the lights
Or admit that I sneaked a smoke,
She’d simply say that I drank too much
Or get mad, when she awoke,
But I checked the shed in the morning light
And opened the creaking door,
There were just a few old gardening tools
And a broken down lawnmower.
One night, I slept much longer than most
And I woke at half-past three,
But Constance wasn’t there in the bed,
She wasn’t where she should be.
I hung on out of the window then
And looked on down at the beams,
Where Constance was approaching the shed,
Asleep in her walking dreams.
She stopped, and opened the creaking door
Then she disappeared inside,
I held my breath and I lit a smoke
And a second one, beside.
I thought that she might have woken up
For the beams were still as bright,
But she only came when I called her name,
Still sleep-walking in the night.
She climbed back into our bed again
And slept the sleep of the dead,
She didn’t wake until ten o’clock,
At breakfast then, I said:
‘How did you sleep then, Constance dear,
You are somewhat flushed in the cheeks.’
She smiled a mystery smile: ‘That was
The best that I’ve slept in weeks! ’
‘You didn’t get up in the night, ’ I said,
‘Imagine some lights, and beams? ’
‘No, I was lost in some palace, Ted,
And having the strangest dreams.
A prince sat high on a silver throne
But the air in there was a fog,
There was just the prince and myself alone,
But he had the head of a frog! ’
She laughed, as never I’d heard her laugh,
And her eyes, they sparked with fun,
I couldn’t believe the change in her,
She’s never a happy one.
‘I suppose that he asked to kiss you then
Like the tale from the Brothers Grimm? ’
‘Something like that, ’ said Constance,
But her lips were pursed, and prim.
It happened again another night
When I woke to find her gone,
She didn’t come back at four o’clock,
Nor ‘til the sun had shone.
I stopped her as she was walking back
But her eyes were wide awake,
‘Don’t even ask, ’ she said to me,
‘Or you’ll cause us both heartache.’
It’s seven long months since they went out,
The lights in the garden shed,
And Constance cries when she tries to sit,
She says it’s the baby’s head,
She told me she doesn’t want me there
When she’s finally giving birth,
So I took an axe to the garden shed
And I piled the wood on the hearth!
30 April 2014
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