Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

All Posts By David Selzer

53 WILLIAM STREET

Our DNA is filled with wondrous

commonplaces, luminous platitudes:

refugees from pogroms in the Ukraine,

refugees from the Famine in Connaught.

*

This was the house my mother’s family moved to

from 7 Moses Street, off Sefton Park Road,

Liverpool, three years before she was born;

Ma, Da, her two small sisters, her two teenage

step brothers; a rented end of terrace –

with gas, running water, outside privy –

in a cobbled cul-de-sac, where bread

still warm was delivered in the Co-op’s

horse drawn van,

share

THE BOX BROWNIE

The photo of Stephen Baum and me aged 4

falls out of the back of a book. Each of us

is holding a part of a redundant

Kodak Brownie and laughing in ecstasy.

The battered camera is Stephen’s.

The sun is shining, and we are on the lawn

in front of the flats where we lived. It was spring

or summer ’47. Our mothers

would take us to the entrance of the yard

of the dairy on Child’s Hill so we could watch

the horses and hear the waters rushing

through wooden slats,

share

CENSUS

At midnight on Sunday the 3rd of April

1881 the Bar lightship’s

paddle steamer tender, ‘Vigilant’,

is moored at Woodside Stage, Birkenhead.

Of the eight crew three were born in Wales,

two in Liverpool, one in Ireland,

one in Sweden and one on a ‘Yorkshire Farm’.

In immaculate copperplate, the First Mate,

my great grandfather, completes the form.

 

Meanwhile at 52 Harlow Street,

a street that slopes down to Harrington Dock,

where the Elder Dempster line was based

that sailed to Freetown,

share

THE VICISSITUDES OF HISTORY

Her maiden surname was Eisenberg, ‘iron

mountain’, one that had been chosen for them

from the Imperial list. I was often

uneasy, unsure in her presence.

She hardly ever smiled. I realise now

because I looked so like her son, my father.

She died, from kidney failure, when I was nine.

 

On the mantelpiece in our dining room

is a pair of figurines – faux Meissen –

brought in her parents’ wooden suitcase, wrapped

in linen, journeying from Leopoldstat,

share

THE PIER, BEAUMARIS

Low water now and the motley of crabbers

is crammed towards the end of the pier,

leaving space for a merry metaphor

of our times, Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus,

with its innuendo and innocence,

its knowingness and charm, its vaudeville

of outrageous unnuanced half-truths,

its charivari of anachronisms.

 

The Bulkeley Hotel on the front (once

a private mansion of many rooms)

and the stone terrace of late Georgian

town houses in this holiday resort

speak of its erstwhile strategic value.

share

LLANDWYN, YNYS MÔN

Along the path beside the forestry road,

through the plantation of pine and larch

planted as saplings to keep the dunes in check,

there is a first sighting of the island

with its mediaeval saint’s ruined chapel,

between the trees and across a sandy beach.

 

Out of sight is a pebbly strand exposed

except at the highest tides: an impromptu

causeway – for holiday makers now;

once, for lovers to the chapel with its

rumours of martyred blessings;

share