Jessica Tenth of May, we love you dear.
We love the very day that you were born;
a time of year when you can always hear
bird song echo spring across the lawn.
The time of year that follows, after spring,
when things are warm and fresh, not cold and blue;
when grass is ‘riz’ and birds will always bring
their young upon the wing, we’ll think of you.
A moment’s pause, a time to make a start
on life’s review; a time we can renew
the values we hold nearest to our heart;
and every time, our thoughts go out to you.
When mother dotes a while, on seeing you,
does father ever wish you’d been a boy?
I think not so, he’d rather eat his shoe
than alter you; it would subdue his joy.
When you had just begun, then, we first saw
how small you were, oh vulnerable one;
how innocent, how free, and very sure
of love that’s yours ’till time and tides are done.
Of family, so many words are spoken;
for it gives us the strength when all else fails;
the centre of our universe and hope
to hail a time, when common sense prevails.
How cheap are words, unless sincerely written.
Of your undoubted value, what is the truth?
Only that you leave us rather smitten;
the fairy cannot wait for your first tooth.
Remember, sweet and tender child, how you
are treasured by your parents, and that they
are much loved by their Mothers. Fathers too.
This is all you’ll need to find your way.
Of all the things in life you’ll ever hear,
that you will see and feel and smell and taste;
your love, your loss, with happiness or tear;
only family will save the human race.
Oh Jessica Tenth of May, we love you, dear.
We wish you all the luck you should expect,
but wish you more than just an outsized tier
of life’s lush cake, of things you can dissect.
Au contraire, we wish for you to find,
embedded in your personality,
the strength inside forever to be kind,
generous with your spirit, true to family.
© 2009 John Anstie
All rights reserved
(Read the author’s commentary on this poem)
“Life is short and art long, the crisis fleeting, experience penniless and decision difficult”
As a young man, John was sporting and fit. It was then as much his recreational therapy as a cappella harmony singing, music, walking in the hills and writing is now. Playing Rugby Union for over twenty years, encouraged in the early days by a school that was run on the same lines and ethos as that famous Scottish public school, Gordonstoun, where our own headmaster had been as a senior master. This gave shape and discipline to a sometimes precarious early life.
His fitness was enhanced not only by playing rugby, but also by working part time jobs in farming, as a leather factory packer and security guard, but probably not helped, for a short time, selling ice cream!
His professional working life was spent as a Metallurgical Engineer, Marketing Manager, Export Sales Manager, Implementation Manager and Managing Director of his own company. Thirty five years spent, apparently in a creative desert, raising a family, pursuing a career and helping to pay the bills, probably enriched his experience, because his renaissance, on retirement, realised a hidden creative talent as a writer of prose and poetry. He also enjoys music, with a piano and a fifty-two year old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He sings bass in three a cappella harmony groups: as a founding member of a mixed voice chamber choir, Fox Valley Voices and barbershop quartets. He is also a member of one of the top barbershop choruses in the UK, Hallmark of Harmony (stage name of the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club), who, for the eighth time in 41 years, became UK Champions in 2019. He is also a would be (once upon a time or 'has been') photographer with drawers full of his own history, and an occasional, but lapsed 'film' maker. In his other life, he doubles as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Family man.
What he writes is sometimes autobiographical, often political, sometimes dark and frequently pins his colours to the mast of climate change and how a few humans are trashing the Earth. In 2013, he published an anthology of the poetry (including his own) of an international group of poets, who met on Twitter in 2011. He produced, edited and steered the product of this work, "Petrichor Rising", to publication by Aquillrelle.
His sort of strap-line reads: “ iWrite iSing iDance iChi iVolunteer ”
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I wrote this poem almost exactly two years ago, in celebration of my first grandchild, who is two years old today. I am very proud to be her grandfather and very proud of the way my daughter and son-in-law have brought her up.
Happy Birthday, Jessica!