SERENDIPITY


Pursuing our Holy Grail of finding
four balloon back Victorian dining chairs
in good condition, we drove, to furthest
Cheshire – near where the motorway grows
and the villages have Anglo-Saxon names –
the second Saturday before Christmas
to an antique centre once a dairy farm.
In seven erstwhile milking sheds, covering
fifty thousand square feet, were displayed
a range of products of the industrial
revolution – A Hornby train set,
a tractor seat, a Singer sewing machine,
a framed, signed photo of Edwina Currie,
a Parker-Knoll chair, a room full of plastic
Disney figurines, etcetera,
etcetera. We ate an over priced
toasted sandwich each and left chairless.

Heading home, we stopped, on a whim, in Nantwich –
one of Cheshire’s three ancient salt towns –
where you had spent your early adolescence.
This was the pub your parents ran, there
was where the Girl Guides met, here where you
and your best friend Joan took each other’s snaps
with a Kodak Brownie. We entered
St Marys, the fourteenth century
parish church – grand as a cathedral – Joan
had ten years later been married in.
A choir was rehearsing a Christmas concert.
We sat in the loud stillness churches make.

As we drove to Chester on the A51,
twelfth century Beeston Castle was
silhouetted in ruined splendour
against a sunset of streamers of pink
tinged with grey. We talked of the singing
we had chanced upon and, almost wistfully,
of that long, eclectic tradition
seemingly transcending time and fashion
as if it were something substantial not
a trick of stone or shadow.

 

 

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by Ashen Venema - December 22nd, 2015 at 14:11

    Priceless … 🙂

    ‘We ate an over priced toasted sandwich each and left chairless.’

  2. #2 by Hugh Powell - December 22nd, 2015 at 17:33

    A celebration of the extraordinariness of the everyday – of the significance of junk, the vitality of memory, the way history streams in the firmament – as the poem says, “etcetera, etcetera”. Is that an allusion to Prospero’s great speech in the last two lines? Most fitting that it should be, but no sign of books being cast in the deep here!

  3. #3 by David Selzer - December 22nd, 2015 at 18:37

    No allusion intended – but poems carry contraband hidden from their authors.

  4. #4 by Alex Cox - December 23rd, 2015 at 18:52

    Excellent description of Cheshire, where the motorway is born!

  5. #5 by Alan Horne - December 23rd, 2015 at 21:04

    For me this turns on the last three lines, where the past, despite its hold over us, becomes a trick of stone and shadow. I thought that gave the whole poem an elegiac feel in retrospect.

  6. #6 by David Selzer - December 24th, 2015 at 16:17

    Yes, you’re right, Alan. I think that’s a trick I learned from Philip Larkin – see, for example, MR BLEANEY – http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/mr-bleaney/ – or DOCKERY & SON – http://www.allinfo.org.uk/levelup/dockery.htm.

  7. #8 by Steve Snelson - March 15th, 2016 at 13:00

    Three things strike me here:

    I have never been to the former dairy farm but when I read your poem it evoked a strong sense of the description my brother gave of his visit to Dagfields Crafts & Antiques in his quest to purchase a dresser. Unlike you, he was successful!

    As an exile of Cheshire, I enjoyed the images of the journey that you created – particularly the ‘ruined splendour’ of Beeston Castle.

    I thought that the ‘loud stillness’ in the church was beautifully magnified by the companionship that was at the heart of this poem.

  8. #9 by David Selzer - March 18th, 2016 at 08:56

    The best comments illuminate something essential that, as the writer, I’m not conciously aware of. In this case, yes, you’re right, the poem is about companionship. Thank you.

(will not be published)

  1. No trackbacks yet.