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.

 

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

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.

On the cliff top.

Lay out your thoughts gently,
across a haze of misty blue.
Allow the sea to speak-
to be is not always to do.
You are not what you have earned.

Up sticks and take stock-
there are secrets to find,
new discoveries waiting,
hidden at the back of your mind.
See what you know.

Our striving is just waves on water,
driven by the winds of chance.
Waves sweep across our surface,
rolling, repeating, remembering,
hiding hidden currents of fear.

Breathe in deeply.
Relish the fresh clear air.
Put your life on hold.
Be here- now!

Digging for Bait.

My dad and I spent hours at low tide
searching for worms.
Special worms.
Nothing like the ones at home.
Worms straight out of science fiction,
worms from lurid, shouting posters,
worms from the pits of hell.
Evil worms.
They had thick black hairy skin
and their pulsating bodies
lay hidden beneath the sand.
They were right there
under your feet.
Waiting.

Each worm lay between a tiny wet circle
and a little swirling pile of sand.
It was my job to look for these,
my dad’s job to dig.
Fast.
As soon as the worm felt that sand move
it sensed danger,
and it tunneled downwards
in a race for its life.
Rippling muscles, fear,
soft sand and the incoming tide
were pitted against my dad’s skill.
The losers ended up
squirming in a dirty bucket,
guts spilling out,
dying by inches.
One more body among many.
A freak show for visiting children to stare at-
objects of disgust and loathing.
All dignity gone.

It was the razor clams
who I felt sorry for.
They were hard to catch.
Long and elegant.
Beautiful. Sharp. Fast.
They lay far out on the beach,
low down in the sand,
like a special secret.
Sometimes if I begged hard
my dad allowed me to take one from the bucket,
lay it down on the sand and watch.
Just when I had lost hope
a strong white tongue
would slip out from the end of the shell,
curl downwards,
and stroke the sand gently,
preparing a way.
Finally, in a sudden lunge
that made me feel like cheering,
the whole shell would rise in the air
and shoot downwards
in a rush of celebration.
Gone.
Each one a life saved.