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

Duet for Lucy

The girl who smells of roses plays her flute
Beside her window open on the night.
From shadows and disorder in her room,
The measured notes of Bach’s partitas flow
And fall about me in the dusk beneath.
From hidden branches in the copper-beech,
The day’s last blackbird sings in counterpoint.
How still the twilight when the blackbird calls!
How still the garden where her music falls!

Given to Lucy for her 18th birthday, 1 August 1989

Adult Shores

Poem for Bridget

So softly in the summer night
Your fragile vessel has set sail,
Back through your Irish Infancy,
Bound for the Islands of the Blest.

We stand upon our adult shores
And through the curtain of our tears
Perceive at last, in all its grace,
Your loving presence in our lives.

Now comes the gathering of our years,
the harvest of our childhood days,
And in the barns of memory
We store the blessings
of your love.

For my brothers and sisters
In loving memory of our Mother 1903 – 1992

Lost and Found

Granny bought me a lavender bag
Of pink with a white silk bow.
I lost my precious lavender bag
And they hunted high and low,
In every room, beneath the chairs,
Behind the pot plants on the stairs.

Among the slippers, shoes and toys,
Beneath the settle in the hall,
Between the books on every shelf,
Inside the clock against the wall,
In each dark corner, pink and round
My muslin bag could not be found.

They searched all day and half the night
And still they looked in vain,
On every path around the house
And up and down the lane,
Behind the hedge, along the track,
Among the flowerpots in the back.

The days went by, the bag was lost
And no more called to mind,
But then by chance in a tiny drawer,
My treasure did I find.
The joy they felt was clear to see,
But happiest of all was me!

For Bess

Oh, where is my Teddy?

Oh, where is my Teddy?
I can’t go to bed
If I haven’t got Teddy
To place by my head.

I don’t think I left him
Downstairs in the hall,
Or lost in the garden
Where the grass grows so tall.

I had him this morning
With me in the car,
I don’t think he fell out,
He can’t have gone far.

He’s not in the bathroom,
I did have a peep,
If I haven’t got Teddy
I can’t go to sleep.

I’ve searched in the kitchen
Where I know Teddy runs
When he’s looking for honey
Or sugary buns.

Will you please find my Teddy
And bring him to me,
I’m lonely without him
And he misses me.

Will you tell him it’s bedtime,
Mummy’s kissed me goodnight,
We said “God bless Daddy”
And turned out the light.

But I lie awake, waiting
Alone in the dark
And thinking of Teddy
With me in the park.

It’s cosy and warm
And I soon fall asleep,
I dream of green monsters
In blue oceans deep.

When I wake in the morning,
Beside me in bed
I find Teddy sleeping,
Just like Mummy said!

Helier lost his Teddy, and found it! April 1976

My secret

I have a secret for you,
Let me whisper in your ear,
You mustn’t tell another soul,
I don’t want them to hear.

Just bend a little lower
And turn your face this way,
Now shut your eyes and listen
To what I have to say:

Of all the people in the world,
Of things and creatures too,
The one I love the best of all
Is somebody called You!

1980

Hanging out the washing

I really do not understand
Why Mummy has to start each day
By hanging all the children’s clothes
Upon a line, high in the sun.

But all the same I love to watch
My nappies flapping in the wind,
With Helier’s shorts and Lucy’s tights.
All holding hands and blowing free.

From time to time throughout the day
My Mummy goes to feel the clothes,
And if it rains she rushes out
To bring them back into the house.

I trot beside her up the path
And watch the sun shine through the sheets,
It’s playing hide and seek with me
Behind the branches of the trees.

By teatime when the sun has moved
Around the house towards the West,
My Mummy goes to bring them in,
All full of summer air and sun.

For Beatrice, 18 months, who loves to hang out the washing with Judy. 8.3.78