Requiem For The Hedgehog

Poor hedgehog in the road squashed by a car,
What good to you was your hibernation?
Had you woken up but one day later
You might have lived to see the summer through.
But alas you were not destined to be
Another Mrs Tiggywinkle,
Hanging out washing till a ripe old age.
In the horse-drawn days of Beatrix,
Hedgehogs had greater life expectancy!

27th April 1971

Lucy

Out of the corner of my eye
I watch my wakeful daughter
In my arms
Afraid to catch her infant glance
As I move
To a slow sleepmaking rhythm
which affects only me.
Her tiny fingers
Move over my face,
Feeling everything,
Nose, mouth and eyes,
with exquisite touch
And quiet squeals of joy,
Intakes of breath
And kicking feet,
So different from the
Howling child I picked up.
At last she sucks her thumb,
Covers her face with a cloth
And I know that sleep is near.
I thought it wouldn’t come tonight,
So long I’ve swayed
And sung and cooed
In the darkened room.
But her head falls back
And pale eyelids close
To shut out my face.
Her limbs hang heavy
In my aching arms.
I lay her in the cot
And like a thief
Steal from the room
And pull the door to,
with fingers crossed
And “Shush”
To my waiting wife.

July 1972

Under the Limes

My friends, the limes are blooming now
And in their vaults the holy bees
Intone their sacred offices.

Of all high Summer’s sacraments,
This moves me most and with sweet scents
Body and mind intoxicates.

For this brief moment in the year,
Come share the fragrance of the limes
And, like the bees, forget all else.

The two giant limes in the school playground are in full flower. 5.7.92