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'Neighbours' A poem by Elizabeth Adams

Two of Elizabeth’s poems have previously appeared in The Pelican; here is a third. She prefaces it in this way: ‘I had been shocked when I read that the Westminster Bridge terrorist [Adrian Russell Elms, alias Khalid Masood, 22nd March 2017] had lived for about 10 years just down the road from Great Dixter, one of my favourite gardens, and also that the killer had liked gardening. So I wrote this poem.’ Great Dixter is one of the finest gardens in the south east and Christopher Lloyd one of our most respected garden designers. He died in 2006. Masood had a history of cocaine use and aggressive behaviour (’brawl at the inn’); it’s said that he was probably radicalised while in prison.

BOTH lived at Northiam in East Sussex county:

One with his acres, one a small space.

And though they lived at a different pace,

Each would enjoy his garden’s bounty.

Did Christopher Lloyd meet Masood, born Elms?

And did their paths cross for a while?

The white-haired man with the gentle smile,

O’erseeing the beauty which overwhelms

The visitors who come back every year.

Did Elms buy plants at Great Dixter’s nursery?

Was the glance he received no more than cursory,

For it seems he hadn’t yet struck fear?

But in the year of the old man’s OBE

A brawl at the inn brought more than just shame

To the man who’d be jailed and change his name,

And one day embark on his killing spree.



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