Where did he get them from, my dad,
those old wooden crates which he filled
with tools, gloves, engine parts,
light bulbs, tulip bulbs, bulbs of garlic?
They’d be stacked in garage and greenhouse,
propping each other on corner pegs,
contents hidden, for the most part,
by stained and splintering sides –
or occasionally they’d appear in the kitchen,
when it was time to make ready for planting
or he’d picked too many Bramleys from the tree.
It was how he carried things around,
filling a crate with what he’d need for a day
at the allotment, fishing on the canal bank,
or taking chrysanthemums, carrots, onions
to the village horticultural show.
Sometimes one would give way,
or be given away, and somehow
he’d replace it with one just as battered,
bartered for at a market stall
or agricultural suppliers –
and we’d go on living amongst them,
his clutter-box leaning towers,