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The ditches along Duttons Lane have been full

much of March – because February-fill-dyke

was mostly dry, almost Spring for days.

The glinting water is dark as black tea,

brown as bitter beer. Along Acres Lane

the hawthorn hedgerows are beginning to green.


We park as near the school as we can.

The leafy lane is overflowing with song.

As we walk through the security gates

to join the others waiting – a social mix,

and mainly white – a westerly wind

brings the roars of lions from the zoo nearby.

The daily Beluga flies overhead

with parts from Toulouse for Airbus wings

to be built at Broughton. The handcart

we may go to Hell in will be well designed!


But she appears, our quotidian

messiah, the unexpected grandchild

to redeem us in our eld, our dotage.

How she inundates our doting hearts,

makes us merry with love!




© Copyright David Selzer
3 Responses
  • Clive Watkins
    March 26, 2021

    This is excellent, David. I like (because I know and understand) the familial love it expresses. The poem is firmly located in real places, some of them named. The unseasonable weather is unsettling and contributes to the sense of fragility that hangs over what is described. The images of water in the first paragraph are picked up metaphorically in ‘The leafy lane is overflowing with song’ and, of your grand-daughter, ‘How she inundates our doting hearts’. (The ‘glinting water … dark as black tea’ is a fine detail.)

    The conclusion is complex and delightful. Your grand-daughter ‘appears’ as a saving vision might suddenly appear, and yet of course your being at the school gate indicates a confidence that she will indeed appear. Her unexpectedness is signalled in a different sense by the introductory ‘But’: despite the ominous appearance of the aircraft overhead, here comes – in a lovely phrase – your ‘quotidian / messiah’. It is a kind of miracle, but one that happens every day without losing its power. These senses are given a new context in ‘the unexpected grandchild’, the grand-child long longed-for who at last was conceived and born. The messianic overtones continue in ‘redeem’. The expressive weave of sounds draws these ideas and feelings beautifully together. In its half-rhyme the archaic and poetic (and perhaps lightly self-mocking) ‘eld’ is partnered with ‘grandchild’; and various patterns built around the consonants ‘d’ and ‘t’ resonate through these lines. The condition of dotage as the foolishness brought on by age is redefined more positively in the next line: the grand-daughter ‘inundates our doting hearts, hearts which age – so the metaphor perhaps hints – might have been rendered as dry as the ditches in the unseasonably dry weather of February. Finally, with a wonderfully skipping alliteration, Evie’makes us merry with love’.

    A fine poem, David.

  • Sarah Selzer
    March 27, 2021

    Beautiful and made more poignant by the fact this has changed so dramatically over the last year because of Covid. The scene now would be everyone in masks (and a commentary on the designs/statements?!) But, anyway, Evie now as year 6 comes out the gate herself (chatting endlessly with her pals and huddled over their phones! Another gorgeous image to make the heart sing) so that whole description of waiting in the playground has poignancy as it is also an image that won’t be repeated. Another cracker of a poem – and I did enjoy reading Clive’s observations, so “what he said”! Xxx

  • Jeff Teasdale
    March 31, 2021

    Another thought-provoking poem, David, and one shared by us as an activity…tomorrow is ‘the day’! And this in the school playground where we met our own children (one can’t stray far from Macclesfield, and why would you want to?!) years ago. In fact, many of these parents look very familiar from the children they were 20 or so years ago (probably longer), who have grown up, are living their lives, and having their children who dash out laughing as they once did, their clothes smelling of ‘classroom’. It is still the same ‘fug’.
    Though I am bemused by the answers to the question ‘what did you do today, then?’ It used to be ‘Nothing much’ (though I knew it was ‘much’), whereas now I am regaled by incomprehensible fractions and subordinate clauses. I hope somehow the ‘awe and wonder’ are still coming through.
    There is nothing quite like being near a primary school at ‘playtime’. Not your roaring lions, but just the sound of very young people coming out from between the adjoining houses of having a happy laughing time. Do our current politicians understand ANY of this?

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