LESSONS FROM HISTORY


Snapped black and white in Kodak Verichrome,

more than seventy years ago, by an aunt

with a Kodak Brownie, I am supine

in a small pram. The park’s avenue

of lime trees in leaf suggests May

and therefore me, coverless, five months.

My fingers are clasped and bare feet are crossed,

like an effigy’s or a lounge lizard’s.

I am awake and eyeing the camera,

through half-shut lids, like an insulted

potentate – or an about-to-be-mardy

baby.  Behind me, in the distance,

is the spire of the Victorian

sandstone parish church, in the middle ground

tennis courts and someone serving.

 

Beside me, in sharp focus (on a bench

with concrete ends and wooden slats, ‘There’s-

a-war-on-you-know’ weeds burgeoning

beneath it) my mother, a handsome woman

with rich, auburn hair, a war widow since March –

her ancestors Welsh seafarers, some drowned,

some landlocked.  She is almost smiling.

 

Most days, in all seasons, we walk the park,

an Edwardian legacy, named

for Queen Alexandra, a fashionista

mother of six, a loather of Prussians –

being a daughter of a Danish king –

and disabled over time by her deafness,

then slowly losing speech and memory.

We talk of the present – how our daughter laughed

on the swings and now her daughter does.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Ian Craine - December 28th, 2016 at 09:53

    And now you hone in on that part of the natural world that is your good self. Effigy or lounge lizard, you pass through life entertaining and enlightening us with your verses.

  2. #2 by John Huddart - January 2nd, 2017 at 14:19

    The bard of Hoole, supreme in his kingdom! A fine poem.

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