OLD LADY, WEEPING CHILD, FOREST TREE Old lady half hidden behind curtain lace, arthritic prisoner at her window sat there friendless etched upon your face. No family to tend and nurse a discarded burden on the state. I, minding my own business, can no longer ignore your lonely stare; so do not be surprised to hear the opening of the gate, a doorbell ringing, I asking neighbourly of anything you need or fetching shopping. I haven’t got a great deal to share only time passing the pot of tea and kindness to show there are still people Who care for a weeping child huddled in a corner frozen blue with cold, frozen stiff with fear of a fist that beats; scolding for no reason left neglected, hungry; dirty the guilty secrets kept hidden locked under stairs. Screams at night, not silent, I can no longer ignore — I must be the someone who has to interfere to stop the cruelty a helpless child is suffering. No more tears, for the hand now holding is of A friend who cares when forests are cut down, oak tree dead giving space instead to glass office blocks in urban conurbation town with precinct square. Where springwood Rise is only a name remembered up high on a towering concrete wall and people in their designer houses cannot recall what once was growing there? When paper is just a faded museum exhibition piece the acorn I have planted in my garden will have grown and spread its seed. The news flashed on computer screens commuters daily read that my children’s children’s children will sit beneath the dappled shade to hear the leaves whispering “Thank God someone showed they cared!”
First published in the Co-Op Caring Poetry Festival Anthology, 1988ST ARILDAS CHURCHYARD How sad a forgotten graveyard clings close to the side of the hill, long ravaged by the winds of time, cold stone monuments silent, still; fading inscriptions remembering those who died. On breath of a breeze its bell long-silent begins its ring, a haunting toll across the vale echoing. Awakening again bitter‑sweet memories of those left here behind. Who, on a sad day far back in time stood beside the open grave and cried. But who comes here now to tend the flowers? Only bees. A dragonfly on gossamer wings hovers over tall grass swaying in the wind. Only chirping grasshoppers. A mistlethrush sings. Picasso-painted butterfly flutters like a lost soul departing a hill steeped in clouds those teardrops of tranquillity found alone by Severn River’s backdrop. A silver thread weaving amongst lichen-crusted tombstones; a spider’s web set in motion in this peaceful sacred ground.
First published in Beyond the Horizon (The Poetry Guild, 1997)SEBASTIAN I could not understand you though I tried Speaking in syllables, signs in the air With my hands, with my eyes and you watching, Your smile and laughing, we were trying; And somehow you knew me, reading my mind. You were a man, Sebastian, with feelings You cried, a child, but you thought as a man. You loved like any man, and there was much Compassion given so freely, not held back by fears, And I wept frequently, unashamedly. So why when you turned away, could I not come Where you travelled still trapped in your chair? You could not tell me, you tried to show me Through blue eyes behind deep oceans forming Barriers between us I could not cross. So where have you gone tonight Sebastian, Unlocked and unleashed; free from your prison? I can still see you smiling, hear laughter but Missing you in the spaces now empty. Only the chair here that you left behind. ___________________________________________________________