Eating Apricots in France

for Jean and Mado

Under the sun umbrella
on the terrace
old friends meet.

Watching the mist on mountains
listening to the call of the cowman
urging his herd to milking.

Eating apricots, sipping wine,
a gentle informality,
born of shared memories.


In hospital

Tortured burbling
comforted into silence,
they say she’s pretty.
She’d lived in France
near the Somme
vast experience
there for the talking.

I wish

Poem for children – Carol Ann Duffy said children will love it  – will they ever see it?

My dad works in the circus
And when we go to school
He shows me lots of circus tricks,
He likes to play the fool.

Miss Chivers showed him round one day,
He cartwheeled in the gym
And swung on ropes above our heads
So we all laughed at him.

Mr Potts was cleaning windows
When dad was going round,
He put a bucket on his head
Two metres from the ground.

He juggled in the classroom
With books and balls and rings
And balanced boxes on his nose
And other clever things.

Mrs Pie was in the kitchen
Dad loves to help with flour.
He made some lovely custard pies.
Which passed a pleasant hour.

Miss Chivers said “It’s time to go”
But dad was having fun
So he strung us up a tightrope,
We practised one by one.

But now we have to do our work
So dad will have to go,
Will he listen? Not my dad,
He’s swinging to and fro.



Seeds take flight with the softest blow,
on dandelion clocks you know.


How long can that be?
And who’s in charge of time. Tell me?

Twin spirits drift and sometimes fly,
but cannot separate or die.

Distance is all in the mind,
a word for space I think you’ll find.

Alienation is a choice,
but takes an angry tone of voice.

Despite the walls, the gates, the locks,
think of the seeds around that clock.

They drift, they fly, they find some ground,
and safely grow until they’re found.

Don’t Thow Away the Daisies

Thank you for passing the time with me,
It’s so lonely waiting to die.

Can’t tell you how angry I felt
when you first appeared
with fruit and flowers
wittering on about sun and the seasons?

I wanted to scream at you ‘I’m dying.’
Have you got the colouring book?
One of your slightly better ideas.
Silly really but I love doing them,
reminds me of being little,
using every crayon in the box.
Mother and me at the kitchen table.

Now when you do the flowers,
please don’t throw away the daisies,
although I know they are past their best.

Could you do my nails?
I often had a manicure when I was working,
it seems important that God should see
I’ve tried my hardest.

I love the oils, the scent of lavender
challenging that mournful medical smell.

Hold my hand, I’m feeling so very tired.

Deep rhythms overwhelm me
creeping in on every side.

My eyelids are amazing rainbows,
how very strange.

Let’s say goodbye now – softly –
just in case I slip away.

(in memory of Gwen)

Granny’s Corset

Push open the door and enter her room
with heavy beige wallpaper
and brown gloss paint.

Grandma, propped up with pillows,
crisp white sheet,
pure silk eiderdown,
raises a frail hand in greeting.

Time to cram her into her corset,
I stagger from chair to bed
with the well washed cotton contraption.
I am eight and grown up.

I fasten the buckles, thread tapes,
tug at cords, clip on suspenders,
under her orderly instructions.

I help her into her flowery frock,
brush her hair, dab on some powder,
pass her a mirror for her approval.

A bomb damaged Grandma’s back
but mother says she is indomitable.
She glides downstairs ready
to organise the rest of the house.


His eyes open
blink in the wind
heart thumps under
water heavy jacket
hands and face numb.
Tries to wriggle his toes
in the wet woolly socks
his shoes gone.
Seagulls screech
glide downwards
peer at him greedily
in semi-darkness.
He imagines he sees
his mother’s grey eyes,
“This is not what I wanted,”
she whispers.
Was this what he wanted
when he washed down
the pills with three quarters
of a bottle of Bourbon?1-P1000631
The sound of a siren.
Now pebbles crunch.
He feels his head lifted.