The Bitter, The Sweet.
Remembering is bitter sweet.
Bitter as the very first taste of an orange,
Sweet as the wild strawberriness
of a long ago summer.
I remember, as violets
and wild garlic,
playing cuckoo under the railway bridge
as the echo answered back.
Football games with my brothers
in the middle of the road,
never once worrying
about being knocked down
by a speeding horse and cart.
for minnows and sticklebacks,
Picnicking, a feast with cold tea and bread and jam.
Lazy days watching the narrow boats pass
on their way to my imagined eldorado
with their noisy raggedy children and barking dogs.
was russet reds, coppery gold,
the dry furry taste of beech nuts,
competing for them with the greedy grey squirrels.
Fat juicy plums and stolen apples;
wood smoke mixed with the smell of rotting compost
and just harvested allotments.
Early morning mists
overlaying the canal like a gossamer blanket.
Guy fawkes night
with just a sparkler each
and a bonfire to bake a potato on.
The smouldering Guy, finally combusting on top.
was ice on the inside of the windows,
frozen solid water in the butt,
Icicles hanging like stalactites from the gables
glittering like crystal chandeliers
in the weak winter sunlight.
The house smelling of rabbit stew and thyme
from dinnertime to our milky bread supper.
Candle waxed fingers going to bed;
the vapours of Vick’s chest rub and a bunged up nose
and always, always not enough clothes.
With a glimmer of light at winter’s heart
bringing a few little gifts and some caroling,
a party of hope for a happy new year,
and an impatient yearning for a fresh green spring.