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Tag Archives childhood

THE DESERTED WAGON

It was county council green, wooden, with
metal-rimmed wheels and a curved roof
like a Roma caravan, and a triangular limber
for towing by clanking, ponderous steamrollers –
before petrol driven lorries took the road menders
to and fro in what, for a time, would have seemed
like no time at all. This one – abandoned pre-war –
was parked, throughout my childhood, on the verge
at a country cross roads.

It entered my dreams. I thought God worked there,
hunched in his robes above an operating table,
serious in his beard,

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THE SAME SHARED GROUND

Larks and herons rise from the same shared ground –

a salt-marsh sprinkled with scurvy grass

like early snow. A navigable channel

is impossibly distant, far-off as

childhood’s spring tides. Silt obscured endeavour.

Sailors and milkmaids and priests lie low

as the worked-out coal seams. Glaciers made this –

ice miles, thick as centuries, combing valleys,

teasing out hills, a slow explosion

of seas. I imagine, back in Europe’s

reticular forests, a homely,

mackerel sky caught in another’s vision –

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RITES

That rite of passage of the middle class –

chauffeuring offspring to the varsity –

took us the breadth of England, from Hoole to Hull.

Extending her childhood, our parenthood

or both, we travelled the edge of hope

and longing, by acres of burning stubble

and slagheaps greening. In the rearview mirror,

she leant forward to gossip about

the future…When she was eight, we’d planted

her cherry tree, knowing she would one day

climb up it and out of sight.

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PEDAGOGY

Beyond the furthest goalpost, at the edge

of the wood where smokers hid, was a pond

clogged with glue tins, an Asda trolley and,

sometimes, discarded tasks – notes, a poem.

In every sense, it was out of bounds.

I was one of a group of subversives,

teaching childhood and choice in a land

of deference and property. We would

measure success anecdotally, ignoring

statistics. Now that we have lost the past,

I believe that the children must make

the revolution.

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THE HEART’S TESTIMONY

I am a gumshoe tailing mortality,

a shammus staking out history,

death’s sleuth. The past has bequeathed itself,

its deceiving legacy of meanings.

Here is the evidence, thronging the cramped,

provincial streets – the line of a wall,

family remembrance, an ancient name.

Before terraces and villas, before

canal and railway, under pavements

and metalled roads, beneath fields is lost heathland,

a forsaken brook. There are only stones

and ghosts and the heart’s testimony – childhood,

ambition,

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HERE

Garden, Hoole © SCES 2006



For more than half our lives, we have lived

in this enigmatic, anachronistic

Victorian villa – built to look like

a Georgian farmhouse – with ashlar blocks

at three corners, the fourth unfinished.

A Valentine’s Day removal, we ate

a takeaway in the kitchen with friends.

The wife is a widow now. Our daughter

has grown, gone and visits: her childhood

still blesses the rooms sun touches through the day’s

compass.

share

THE HEART’S TESTIMONY

I am a gumshoe tailing mortality,

a shammus staking out history,

death’s sleuth. The past has bequeathed itself,

its deceiving legacy of meanings.

Here is the evidence, thronging the cramped,

provincial streets – the line of a wall,

family remembrance, an ancient name.

Before terraces and villas, before

canal and railway, under pavements

and metalled roads, beneath fields is lost heathland,

a forsaken brook. There are only stones

and ghosts and the heart’s testimony – childhood,

ambition,

share

THE SAME SHARED GROUND

Dee Estuary from Gayton Sands. © Sylvia Selzer 2009.


Larks and herons rise from the same shared ground –

a salt-marsh sprinkled with scurvy grass

like early snow. A navigable channel

is impossibly distant, far-off as

childhood’s spring tides. Silt obscured endeavour.

Sailors and milkmaids and priests lie low

as the worked-out coal seams. Glaciers made this –

ice miles, thick as centuries, combing valleys,

teasing out hills, a slow explosion

of seas. I imagine,

share