Not Quite Fern Hill (Poetry Monthly)
Thu, 07 Apr 2016
Still...my favourite place to be...at the top of 'my' hill – where, presently, a keen, easterly April wind chides these brown-frowning furrowed fields, this evening blessed with fawn-light seeks out secret burrows of night’s creatures – trees and bushes wreathed in mists of memories when sunbeams skid on frozen puddles, and gathering fog chokes all sound, until – slices through the silence the rasp of a muntjak’s bark. It is this hill kept/keeps me sane. I climb up here to write, most always. A shack/'summerhouse', courtesy of B & Q’s value range; Narnia’s any place you want it to be and this is mine. Not big enough to swing even the proverbial cat in...so small, needs must it was re-tethered, after transporting itself halfway down the hill in a recent gale. Presently, it has more broken panes of glass than not, but it shelters me from the worst of a sudden, summer squall. I came up here every day after my daughter lost her long fight with cancer, to feel sorry for myself, to think, to centre myself and to record my thoughts for posterity. As a woman I have learned all there is to know about waiting – smelt the rain, listened to the last rays of sun as they fade, and dreamt of the days I guarded my brood – soft and sleeping. Here, where the pheasants eat Garibaldi biscuits out of my hand...where I watch the stars, run rings around the rings around the moon, I am slowly learning to welcome time, not dread it; wrap it around me like a cloak so its warmth envelops me. And, right this second, as dusk settles, I remember how it felt; making daisy-chains out of buttercups, wiping two snotty, but adorable button noses, and needing to walk, barefoot through the dew-damp grass, two pairs of redundant Barbie-pink jellies in hand, then scrubbing twenty podgy toes after they’d went and gone, ‘Wee-wee-wee, all the way home’, in the days when, ‘I was young and easy under the apple boughs, about the lilting house and happy as the grass was green’.