Doors.

A door bears the lingering, silent shadow
of each person who has passed through it.
A presence worn too deep to gloss away,
bled into the grain of the wood.

A door still feels the hand of each person
who ran a finger along its edge,
turned a knob or slipped through an opening
into the freedom of an empty space.

A door remembers slams, shouts and tears.
It holds a memory of each person who walked through it
looking back with reluctance, hiding fears.
A door bears scars.

A door remembers hushed spaces, secret meetings,
quiet giggles, passion and privacy.
It says nothing and sees everything.
A closed door is blind.

A door remembers running children filled with laughter,
times which never thought to end.
The happiness of a frozen moment, the scent of forgiveness,
the voice of a friend.

An open door holds a space where many wishes cross.
It is a place of challenges, of loss and gain,
a chronicle of coming and goings, sharp regrets,
and promises to people who are never seen again.

Shadows on the Door. Jiro Takamatsu. 1968. Installed at the Henry Moore Institute. Leeds.

Shadows on the Door. Jiro Takamatsu. 1968. Installed at the Henry Moore Institute. Leeds.

 

 

The Boxing Days.

I remember the Boxing Days.
The angel cake, the sausage rolls,
the tinned salmon sandwiches.
The coats piled on the bed.
The jelly that I didn’t eat.
The Babycham.

I remember going down the club,
the awful singing, the bingo, the corny jokes.
Our Ann being told not to drink so fast.
The feel of my gran’s crimplene dress
as we danced the Valeta and the St Bernard’s waltz,
sticking out our arms and stamping our feet.

I remember two ball, against a wall,
keeping rhythm and playing jacks,
racing snails and buying penny sweets.
Sitting on a gate, all afternoon,
writing car numbers in a book.
Making patterns with clapping hands.

I remember getting stuck in the coal shed.
Sharing a bed with my cousin-
giggling together late at night.
Watching the women do their hair
with setting lotion and curlers.
Going home on the bus.

I remember sleeping on the back seat
of the old black Vauxhall with nets in the roof
and indicators that flipped out.
Sitting obediently on newspaper
and still being sick half way up Garrowby.
Every time.

I remember the whistle of the seven o’clock train,
rain on the caravan roof,
and flaring gas mantles,
a silly song about piggies
and running to the camp shop
to pick up a summer special.

Those days have gone now,
as days do………….
but I remember.

 

Chips in the Rain.

There is nothing quite so perfect
as hot chips in summer rain.
Eaten, hood up, shoulders hunched
speared on a wooden fork.
The scent of happiness lifted
from underneath the sheltering lid
of a polystyrene carton,
bringing warmth to a shivering day.

The best ones are on top.
Fat sticks of golden potato,
salved with ketchup,
anointed with vinegar,
cooled by a sea borne wind.
Their fading heat comforts my mouth
with a thin coating of molten grease
and the tang of weak acid.

I stroke the bare ones,
sharing out the ketchup,
coating the bare chips
with long thin smears of pale red.
Just right. Perfect.
A small black dog watches,
lips moving anxiously.
Eyes fixed.

We eat together, delicately,
taking each chip into an open mouth
with careful attention, one by one,
until only the scraps are left
and an eager, searching, desperate mouth
bolts them down from the pavement,
excitement shivering,
all control gone.

The Creature of Time.

 

 

 

 

 

Clutching the darkness,
head stretched upwards towards the light,
the creature has been waiting.
Trapped.

He has known sunlight,
tasted many springs and sipped pure water.
Leaned into the wind and felt it move him.
He has been called beautiful.

Held fast by the subtle power
of the soft mud that clings
he has slept tight………….
Barely breathing.

Slowly the rain stroked his body,
loosened his ties, poured away his bonds
wiped the darkness from his empty eyes,
willing him to see.

In the midst of the storm
he roused himself,gazed around,
filled his lungs, felt the edge of the cliff calling………….
With a great howl of longing, he jumped.

Now he waits for the power of the tide,
legs braced, cold and haughty,
curious chin held high as he stares around him.
Ready for his new world.

It belongs to him.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.
The cuts, the stings, the bites, the bruises,
the hand held tight, the fears, the laughter.
A search for self knowledge,
forged in the white heat
of other people’s prejudices.

Making choices, reaching out,
trying on other lives for size.
Growing into ourselves.
We look, we watch, we wonder,
searching for a place to call our own,
lost among people who are not like us.

There is only the future, no death, no endings,
limitless dreams to explore or waste.
A soft path beckoning us on.
Grass covered, made for running,
stretching out into a haze
of possibilities we cannot see.

Later, much later, we return, battle hardened,
to find the home that we always knew,
and within it an eager heart still beating,
wings outstretched, beak open,
an empty throat, straining to be fed.
Our wisest, truest self.
on

Cow Parsley.

It’s the scent I notice first.
I have walked among it all my life
without thinking.
Still air, loaded with summer.
Long stalks shoot up,
fast growing, opportunist,
searching for light.
Tiny sprays of white
in a shambles of dull green
which fill every hedgerow.
Every piece of waste ground
teems with them.
There is nothing special here,
nothing to draw the eye,
yet each year they come,
claiming their space.
Their delicate beauty
is easy to walk past-
easy to condemn,
strim, scythe, behead,
but still they break into flower,
seizing their chance,
growing fast in the warm rain,
keeping faith,
being alive.
They seize their moment,
finding comfort in numbers,
shivering nervously
as they wait in hope.

Fifteen Minutes.

The click of a door.
Heads turn.
A smiling face,
here to do a simple thing well.
Here to heat up chicken soup.
Make tea.
Bring life.
Here to give fifteen minutes
of his youth and eagerness
to two people whose youth is kept
locked away in a faded wedding photograph.
His own needs remain elsewhere.
His name is Joe.

He is here to do a simple thing
which has been taken out of their reach
by the ravages of time.
A ring pull too strong
for a fragile wrist.
A hot pan
too heavy to lift.
An empty kettle
with a lid that sticks.
There is no illness here,
just a slow ebbing away.
A failing.
A loss.

He has looked in the bread bin
and he is worried.
There is bread,
almost a whole loaf,
but it is out of date.
Over a week out of date.
They ask for bread.
They tell him it will be fine.
He is not sure.
He brings the soup without it
and they eat it silently
without asking where the bread is.
He is relieved.

A breezy, “is there anything else you need?”
A scattering of gratitude,
a door clicking shut.
He is gone,
and the life in the room leaves with him.
Empty faces turn back to the quiz show
which glitters and flashes
across the television screen.
She points at the contestant.
“I don’t like him.”
He nods.
No questions are answered.