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

Over the Alps

I do not pray these days.
The faith is gone
Which underpinned such rites.
Yet do I still,
In quiet moments
Of the day and night,
Commend you to the gods,
Call down upon you
Joy and health and peace
And days of grace.
Now the water flows,
As healing sun
Melts through the winter snows.

Bess was lonely and ill, in Milan (2000)

Mummy trimmed my hair today

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.

Early Days

Some mornings when the sun is up
And Daddy doesn’t go to work,
He comes to fetch me in my cot
And takes me to the double bed
Where Mummy lies, still half asleep.
The bed is downy soft and warm
And all the room is pink and white
And golden with the morning sun.
While Daddy lies and reads his book,
I play with Tick-tock and with things
Which Daddy keeps there just for me.
His watch and cuff-links I like best,
But oh! The glasses on his nose
Are such delight, I put them on
While Daddy watches anxiously,
But Mummy hardly ever stirs.
I tell them when it’s time for food
And off we go for milk and flakes
And toast with Mummy’s marmalade.

Baby

Believers in spells
We hardly speak of it,
And yet we know
Within your secret self
The baby grows
And daily lays his claim
To food and space, to air,
To life itself,
And to our life
Which until now we shared
In love and work
And peaceful happiness.

For these quiet years
When we like rivers flowed
Each into each,
Our separate streams to bind,
My thanks and love,
My joy and faithfulness.

And for this change
When we from two shall grow
Into a third,
And found its infant life
On work and faith,
Be you my heart
And daily comforter,
As I’ll your strength
And constant husband be.

30 July 1969

First winter

The year is still raw
In spite of the shoots
And the thin sunshine.
The cows lie behind
Brown bramble hedges,
Safe from the sharp wind.
On his daily walk
My son turns apple
Red and chubby hands
Turn purple, scorning gloves.
Forefinger and thumb
Point to sky and birds
And dogged walkers.
Everything receives
Mention in his list
Many times over,
In case his mother.
Both ears well muffed,
Should fail to listen.

7th March 1971

On the Beach

My Daddy is a teacher
From nine till half past three,
And Mummy works all day and night
Just doing things for me.

When Mummy’s work is finished,
(She says she’s never done)
They put me in their little car
To take me for a run.

I have a bright red bucket
Which Mummy bought for me,
And a little pale blue plastic spade
For digging by the sea.

We go down to the seaside
And find a sheltered space,
They doze or read, I make sand pies
Or crawl about the place.

While Daddy talks to Mummy
I fill my mouth with sand,
And then I climb all over them
With more in either hand.

They’re very patient with me,
I really can’t complain,
So when they’ve brushed the sand all off
I do it once again.

At last the sun is setting
And a calm falls on the sea,
And both of them seem very glad
When a calm descends on me.

I take my little plastic spade,
I clutch my bucket red,
And Daddy puts me on his back
And takes me home to bed.

For Helier 2nd April 1971