Return to Ilkley
For the first time now I see your view
up onto the open moor
from your childhood bedroom in the house
you say seems small
although to me it’s four storeys tall
and full of tales you must recall.
Here’s the graveyard where you walked your dog,
stone backstreets where you used to play,
the path you took beside the River Wharfe.
It's the Big House that seems diminutive,
front door blocked up, stables gone, no garage for the Rolls
in which your father wooed the cook, your mum,
as they shopped for the rich man’s dining hall.
You gesture to the meadow filled with daffodils -
now flats. No bulbs
survived the brick new builds.
You do not cry at all
not even though the role of honour's gone,
from Ilkley Grammar School
your name, head girl, no longer on the wall.
After your father came back from war
you set off for the family’s first degree.
So now I think I see what you saw
up the attic stair and through the door,
out onto the open moor.
From Mum I learned what’s good in life and what’s wrong
Though I was the wicked little one.
From Mum I learned all the flowers and trees
how to read and write, fight for what’s right,
to seize the day, to plug away.
From Mum I learned to knit and sew and mend
and tend a home, to cook W&S – wait and see –
but not that fruitcake, that was her secret.
From Mum I learned to keep Mum.
From Mum I learned to love a man through everything
and though we love as well
few of us will love so long.
And now from Mum I’ve learned to die,
and when it comes,
I hope I’ll be so calm, so brave, so strong.
Letting light in
under the lichen-garlanded hazel
a space to lie back and look up
through the lattice of buds and branches
waiting their long winter wait
pausing before they erupt into catkins
taking time out letting light in
being between ending and beginning