Chris had the Shepherd’s Hut made about 5 years ago as a “room of her own.” She decorated it exquisitely on the inside with a kind of post-modern, narrow-boat aesthetic, leaving the outside very plain to belie the cornucopia of delights within.
She loved to snooze in it on summer days and to light the stove and make tea in colder weather. Often, she would lie on the bed to read and sketch in her notebook. I didn’t go in for months after she died but since getting back from holiday, when Ted and I spent 5 weeks cheek by jowl in the camper van, being in a house, even one as small as Folly Cottage, feels a bit strange so he and I sometimes spend the night in the hut.
It caught my eye through the window the other day as I sat at the dining room table in the cottage and over the past few days I wrote this about how it feels to be there now Chris has gone:
We go inside the shepherd’s hut;
the stove is lit, the door is shut;
we lie awake as darkness falls,
our shadows dancing on the walls.
Ted stretches out beside the fire;
he lifts his head a little higher
and looks at me as if to say:
She isn’t here, she’s gone away.
I swallow hard and catch my breath.
What does he know of sudden death?
It’s alright boy, she couldn’t stay.
It’s you and me. We’ll be O.K.
He settles down to sleep, and I,
I hug the blankets and I try
to conjure you from where you are:
my she-bear playing on a star.
Outside, the garden weeps with dew;
all living things are missing you.