I remember when,
Threw beautiful things into
Golden rings inscribed with script so
Delicate that swan shaped bracelets
Bowed reverent heads and
Turtles, with outstretched limbs and emeralds for eyes
Played hide and seek amongst our rioting passion fruit vines.
Sometimes, when we
We unearthed golden shaped beans
Amongst the wildflowers that stomped
And tantrum’ed against the back sun-lit wall.
Uneven cobbled streets were our friends.
They rang out with
Childish laughter as we rolled our inside outside bicycle wheels through
Sunshine shade, through sunshine shade, towards the river
That called us to her with her song.
The Communists came in the discontented winter and
Took my Grandfather for being a good man. They left
Only charred papers in a burnt out grate and
Four women whose cracked hands bled and beat
River washed wool to within an inch of its life.
Stones cracked, shutters rotted, balconies crumbled.
Mice made homes in window-sill holes
Where once there were silk spun drapes but now
Wild yellow roses dwell.
My poor mother slaved to feed
Dulce et decorum est
(The old lie)
Non est Mortuus.
(He is not dead)
Every month she sent,
In a brown paper parcel
With ‘sorry’ written on the
Bread from our oven,
Cheese from our goats,
Meat from the village,
Apples from our tree,
Socks knitted by guttering candle light,
Handkerchiefs made from curtains
To the punishing frozen North.
The first month
Shoes, a book of
His reading glasses which, whilst cracked would
Have to Suffice.
There was never any reply.
As I peer through the gap in the demolition boards
A rubble of childhood memories gaze back at me and
I see yellow roses wink and riot defiantly
Against the back wall in the
Lengthening shadow of a
The family of women sent food parcels, every month, to Siberia for 4 years, encouraged by the Red Army and believed their Grandfather was alive. In 1925 they were issued with papers that told a different story. Their Grandfather had been shot and his body buried in a mass grave the day he had been taken from the house back in 1921.