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 POETRY

Here is a selection of my poetry for April.

 

ELVERS

 

Riding spring tides, sucked into Severn’s mouth,

 

they’ve braved Atlantic storms to swarm upstream :

 

this mass of squirming grey translucency,

 

glass eels, whose every heartbeat can be seen.

 


 

Rare pike and wading herons eat their fill,

 

and, on ebb tides at night, lone fishermen

 

come out with lights, attract this shoal

 

close to the banks and dip-nets’ caging pens.

 


 

Spring’s river harvest time in bygone days

 

saw elver-eating contests at the pub;

 

sold cheaply by the pint to working men,

 

these baby eels were starving families’ grub.

 


 

Today, ‘though fewer make the nets, the catch,

 

a writhing, frothy mass, is ferried home

 

by van in plastic tanks and old tin baths

 

to sell, as special Easter treats, to gastronomes.

 

 

BRIEF ENCOUNTER

 

My father : slower now,

 

grey haired - stooped and seventy -

 

retains the body of an active man.

 

Hands still powerful are now impaired -

 

a tremour frustrates delicate work.

 

He watches as I set the ladder straight

 

and climb stiff legged to reach the sill.

 

First I locate a place to grip, then clean the pane.

 

My tentative reach with soapy sponge,

 

cackhanded smear with squeegee,

 

from other men would bring disdain -

 

"Let's have a go, I know the game," is all he says.

 

 

 

Scorning my tools he fetches chamois and scrim,

 

the very same that in the past have seen

 

thousands of windows pristine clean.

 

Leaded or shop glass - all the same to him;

 

bays and bows, fanlight or mullion he has cleaned.

 

Ignoring feeble protests he swarms

 

the ladder with a practised tread.

 

Years slip away with every step.

 

Transformed : muscle memory conjures up

 

this younger man still working at his peak -

 

as he'd been when I was just a lad.

 

 

 

Balancing and stretching, further he sways,

 

reaching to the window's distant edge.

 

Rhythm and power; economy in every stroke,

 

this craftmanship admired below.

 

Ten feet above my head I watch his flow :

 

balance, grace, confidence - decisiveness with every pass -

 

sureness of touch I couldn't match.

 

And I am grateful when he's through

 

for cleanliness of glass - a job well done-

 

and sharing with me this hidden younger man I knew.

 

 

My Father would've been 96 on April 13th.

 

 

 

 

FROM THE FAMILY ALBUM

 

Flanked by large carcasses and cuts,

 

forbears pose stiffly for the lens

 

below my Mother’s maiden name

 

emblazoned on their butcher’s shop.

 


 

The sign says, Lapington & Son –

 

his mutton chops beside the beef;

 

her bonnet, apron pristine white –

 

but of the son there is no sign.

 


 

Life in a bottle brought him down,

 

this black sheep who soon got the chop –

 

his birthright lost, a fortune gone,

 

the shop sold off by maiden aunts.

 


 

They, in their turn, gave all away

 

to feed the dogs at Battersea,

 

ensuring devil’s progeny

 

would not receive life on a plate.

 

 

 

WHEN AMBER LEFT

 

She left behind a trail of glinting light.

 

Marking each place where she had stepped, sequins

 

Shine up like tiny sparkling jewels from mats,

 

Carpet and chairs. Shed with each dancing step,

 

 

 

Each twirl, each laugh, it was the magic trail

 

From Disney’s fairy wands flashing down

 

To trace her joy in this new princess dress

 

The one she hoped the Easter Bunny’d bring.

 

 

 

It’s true the label warned, Decorations

 

May detach when washed but not from joyous

 

Prancing… Like Cinderella I sweep up

 

And watch my busy Dyson’s innards gleam.

 

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

Beneath sad skies and gently falling rain,

 

the only sound the joyous song of birds

 

on air so still no breath of wind can stir

 

the late spring trees unfurling fresh green leaves.

 


 

A charm of finches flashes gold and red

 

towards the valley where hedged blackthorn blooms;

 

up on the hill, wet glazes plough’s fine tilth

 

and cowslips thrive beneath the plum and pear.

 


 

A slick of oil washes down the lane,

 

rain heals gouged verge where dying nettles lie,

 

a shattered grill and glass spill from the ditch

 

near scattered flowers from a last “goodbye.”

 

   

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