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,
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
To my waiting wife.
A blackbird sat on the school fence
Watching the boys doing long jump.
“This is the way you do it,” he said,
And swooping down from his perch
Flew the whole length of the sand pit.
Sweet paradise of childhood,
Oh, truly happy land,
Where friends in sea and sunshine
Across the golden sand
Of childhood’s endless summers
Go running hand in hand.
Mummy trimmed my hair today
And cut my baby curls away,
But from the pile she rescued one
Which shone pale golden like the sun.
I have written a note to the fairies
And put it outside near the tree,
I hope that they see it and read it
And perhaps write a few words to me.
I have asked them to come to my party
Though I fear they may not like the noise,
I think they’ll be timid and frightened
By the shouts of the girls and the boys.
So I’ve put them some food in the garden
And some teacups on Mummy’s best tray;
In the moonlight they’ll have their own party
And dance till the dawning of day.
I’ll try to keep watch from my window,
Perhaps on the lawn I shall see
Titania, the Queen of the Fairies,
And perhaps she will wave up at me.
For Lucy March 1977
Seven silver buttons
On my dress of midnight blue
There’s a wish on every button,
Which I hope will each come true.
(Lucy’s new dress from Austria)
We built a fort of seaweed
Against the rising tide,
We made it round and solid
And then all climbed inside.
The waves splashed up against it
Till we were wet with spray,
Our fort began to crumble
And seaweed float away.
“Quick, quick, the walls are giving!
Build up the broken gate!
Let’s reinforce the ramparts
Before it is too late!”
In spite of all our efforts
To stop the rushing tide,
Our castle sank beneath the waves
And water came inside.
“Abandon ship” my Daddy cried,
“Let’s leave it to the sea!”
We scrambled up the beach to Mum
And went back home for tea.
26 August 1979