There’s mum grinning
in the meringue dress
that was kept in a box in the attic,
until it turned as yellow
as this old photo.
Dad stands rigid beside her
in someone else’s Sunday suit.
The bridal party
smile, captured in sepia.
Four full ranks of youthful family
shoulder to shoulder,
staring into the timeless lens.
Yet time took them.
Now all those happy folk
are a confetti of dust,
fertilising the flowers
with their boney minerals.
A blood bouquet,
bound with apron strings,
to be thrown to the next generation
for use in marriage.
Autumn is the time for dying
Of grasping winds that drag
The leaves from weary trees
To wreath the still warm earth
So ripe for digging
It is the time of dismal days
and flaming fires
A season of silver skies
of mourning mists
And memories of summer
I wrote this poem after the death of my mother-in-law on 16th October 2018. I was really pleased that the family liked it enough for my brother-in-law to read it out at her funeral this week.
In her youth she learned to make things,
Oh yes, her boys were testament to that.
Her needles clicked to keep us warm,
and her machine trundled stitches,
turning tailored suits for working life
and childhood clothes for grandchildren.
With painted nails and silk threads she wove
bright flowers, embroidering colour
into all the corners of her home,
where friends and family shared the yarns,
those times that knit a life
And all the while her garden grew.
Every plant, she knew, by name,
their differing hues and habits,
like children sown with confidence and skill
the clematis, fuchsias and scented stock
all flourished in her daily care.
Her nimble fingers now lie still,
the crafts she loved abandoned,
and in that belovéd garden
the last roses sadly droop their heads.
Yet her flowers will still bloom in spring
and fond memories will forever warm us.
She turned towards the greyness
of the thunderous sea and sky,
her tears lost to the wanton wind
as she dreamed of stillness.
The stillness of a frozen path
covered with that lazy snow
that drifts capriciously
smothering all beneath.
The stillness of an animal,
trapped in the gaze of a hunter,
frozen in its startled state
‘til it’s heart is stopped.
The stillness of an empty church
where the silence echoes
filling the void with peace,
while the cold walls seep death.
And while she dreamed,
the whirlwind world
whipped around her still,
amplifying her melancholy.
She watched as the waves
attacked the rocks below,
then, succumbing to the depths between,
felt the numbing embrace of water.
So now the shutters are down
and the locks are locked
the old house holds it’s breath
while at it’s centre the ticking clock
marks the demise of each cell
as second by second
and the anomalous smiles
of long gone folk
fade in the dust
on the mantel
Posted in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme ‘Earth’.
Yup, this is a picture of my compost heap. I know… not beautiful and most definitely not the most glorious respresentation of earth that you will see for this challenge. However, I would argue that it is the most wonderous.
It will never cease to amaze me that I can chuck all manner of organic waste in there, including (but not limited to) manky vegetables and peelings, teabags, newspapers, grass cuttings, and even woolly jumpers, and given a few months it will all rot down and become a beautiful crumbly and sweet smelling compost that works wonders, feeding my soil and making flowers and vegetables strong, healthy and colourful. It is the eighth wonder of the world.
It is also quite a comfort to me to witness that waste produce something beautiful. Not being of a religious nature, I don’t believe in an afterlife, but knowing that whatever happens to my, and my families bodies once we’ve finished with them, whether they are burnt and scattered in the wind or buried, those organic remains will feed the earth and help to nourish the planet one way or another. All I ask is that my family don’t choose to keep my ashes in a pot on the mantlepiece! Well, that would be just creepy anyway. 🙂
Well, this is all getting a bit gloomy, so here’s some evidence that my beautiful compost is doing it’s work already this spring.
In the space where souls wait
where even the saints have regrets
the walls ring with the guilt and shame
of those narrow lives
lived in insular oblivion
Reflections of selfless love
and children’s innocence
illuminate the dark corners
purifying the air
and disgracing the damned
Too late for wishes and dreams
they lay discarded
slippery as wet pebbles
whilst hope lies shattered
in shards of sorrow
meekly we gather in the centre
clutching our confessions
to contemplate our foolish little lives
and await the price
Writing 101 day 4 – Using a picture for inspiration
We used to rock and roll
Her dyed black, tied back hair swinging
as we jived through young life
Swerving around corners
eating up the straights
on silver machines
that throbbed and roared
as we sat carelessly astride
Together we played at grown-ups
We nestled and snuggled
our restless souls settled
our bikes rusted in the backyard
where herbs and flowers grew
encouraged by her tender hands
Then her belly swelled
I watched her move to the
dance of motherhood
her face, lit by a thousand smiles
glowed in soft focus
while babies suckled
then grew strong beside her
Bereft she cried in my arms
as we watched them go
Reflections of our younger selves
Caught in the moment
I saw her face, it’s soft valleys
and newly formed crevasses
denoting worry and wisdom
Those last few months when
floury fingers baked biscuits
and dusted memories on the mantel
When her tied back hair was grey
and her frowns replaced the smiles
And the call came
As I sit in this echoey place
Where the candles flicker
And memories are shadows
Where I carried her like a doll
With her silver hair loose and free
We used to rock and roll
In a darkened room the angels hover
while a woman sleeps
And thunderous rain sends morse messages
to the heavens
while down the stairs a raging fire burns
warming cold souls
Twelve bells as the old clock marks the hour
not recognising day or night
Blossoms in the gardens fold their petals
fearing the dark
And all the while, gentle clouds of breath
escape those red lips
Oblivious, cocooned in starched sheets
on a bed of down
The woman rests before her last descent
Weeping angels watch
As the fire rages on
Oh dear, I am sorry about this. I don’t really know where this came from today. I was in the mood for writing a bit of verse and just came up with the first couple of lines and, well, it kinda gathered pace from there.
Sorry, no accompanying picture to cheer things up either. I did have some beautiful dark velvety tulips last year, but the bulbs were severely trampled on by the man-fence men when they installed the man-fence a month or two ago, so I think I might be tulip-less this year…
Anyhoo…sorry again for this bit of quite depressing verse!!
They asked why
I chose black tulips for his grave
Unforgiving to the touch
with fragile strength
cloak a secret centre
Their elusive lustre
glimpsed for but a moment
then quelled in this perfidious place
How earnestly they droop their sombre heads
As lifeless they lie limp on burnished wood
And they asked why
I chose black tulips for his grave