Imagine if you will
one day in nineteen fifty one
a babe was born, a girl,
and a special life begun.
When she was two, but why
would anyone resist the apple
of her doting father’s eye
and her mother’s boast in chapel
Her sibling, four years older,
was her brother, Mike, whose joy
was being bigger and bolder,
as her protector, he wasn’t coy.
Early came the Navy’s call
a journey when she was only three
a long and epic trawl
the oriental world to see.
A great adventure to
a land where there would always be
servants and a true
colonial kind of luxury.
Here would reveal her call;
the portent of her future love
of creatures great and small,
when biting dog gave her no dove
But she survived and coped.
Back to Blighty, now, aged six
round the Cape of Hope
and home to teach a dog new tricks
Here is the part when I
wish that I had known her then
her tombstone teeth as high
as Neolithic stones and when
she smiled, she’d float a ship
or two, enough to melt your heart;
then seamlessly let slip
an infectious grin that played it’s part
persuading Daddy that he
should buy a pup for her to train;
all were impressed to see
such obedience so urbane.
A younger girl called Sue
joined her as a friend at school.
So similar were they too
that teachers made her feel a fool;
calling out in class
“Tie your sister’s shoelaces”,
which well and truly brassed
her off and made for some cross-faces.
So now she’s ten, and ready
for another change of school
born in Wales already,
bounced between so many, she’s cool
to move wherever she’s bid,
from Hampshire hog to Cornish pasty,
or Suffolk punch the Navy’s grid
but always a place that she found tasty;
at least to the taste
that she acquired, for walking wild,
communing with nature, no haste
in teaching her Black Sorcerer child.
Then in her teenage years
not only had she the canine way
but she cajoled her Dad
to make it Christmas every day.
Persuaded with no force
that she should have a another ‘toy’,
a small, but gentle horse
would briefly be her pride and joy.
And so to blissful days
a singular kind of happiness –
though blessed in many ways
– would turn to pain, and evanesce.
No easy consolation,
her loss was life’s unkind response,
but for her appellation –
an obedience training renaissance.
One girl and her dog
swept the honours across the county
a canine dialogue
repaid her, nature’s special bounty,
and made her feel alive
full of joy and founded creed
that all creatures thrive
inside a world so full of need.
But then all was to change
and off to the big bad city she’s sent;
battered with a range
of experience that means she went
quite dizzy and unsettled;
heavy feelings that she was missing
her home; but she had mettle
and soon she found that she’d be kissing
another, who had art,
a handsome wandering troubadour,
who slowly turned her heart
and he for life would her adore.
And so another chapter:
abundant talks ‘midst cellars and spires
long walks with her new captor
in the wee small hours as the Queen retires,
with backs to Victoria’s memorial
keeping close watch over Buckingham Palace
discussing their future armorial
for him, the knight, the golden chalice.
For, that very night,
was sealed a great and strong romance
that felt so perfect, so right
For Prince and Princess in life’s long dance.
But smitten Prince, unsure –
his Princess was unhappy too,
despatched to another shore –
whilst he, his learned stature grew.
Then, whilst separated,
he realised his true devotion;
his proposal communicated
(by phone), showing unfeigned emotion.
But there’s more to this story
(the Princess’s parents, the King and Queen)
and, what’s more, the King he
disapproved and made a scene.
But he relented finally
Seeing that he had no real say;
that this seed of family
was firmly rooted and here to stay.
So this relationship
was sealed in holy matrimony;
a pact of fellowship
with so much happy ceremony
that no one would forget
her ancient dress, such elegance
of lace and grace, and yet
with note of her intelligence.
Whence, they travelled far
to a castle, way up north
where seeds were sewn and are
the roots and fruits that they brought forth.
Her children three, imbued
within a world so different from
the one her childhood knew;
strange folk, who happened to become
good friends, almost all;
who have lasted all these years,
through fortunes great and small;
lots of laughter and some tears.
And so, some salient features
of a woman, who’s everything
to a widening group of creatures,
nay, friendships more than anything;
her passionate care for nature,
of all creatures great and small
and those who feel assured
by her environmental thrall.
When she’d sacrificed
her career as a secretary bird,
(against her own advice)
her own and other loins to gird,
her complete integrity,
as nurse or mother, spouse or friend,
was revealed for all to see,
on which we all somehow depend.
Now, there is a matter
I mention, just to bear in mind,
(her image I’ll not batter)
but on the wall there is a sign!
It was a gift to say –
by observation, careful thought
(Cate brought it home one day)
and no solution was ever sought;
it says, concerning a sound:
“dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off!”
but it’s the other way round:
we know we’ve to cook it again, and scoff!
But I know she can cook
’cause after six months of trying in vain
I still have to ask her to look
at my white sauce (that I think I should strain!)
Now, where have we got to.. Eating?
But there’s so much more to this life
than slaving away in the kitchen;
going hungry or complaining to your wife!
How could we forget
the pantomimes, and “Puss in Boots”.
She sang “Everything I Do…” and yet
she raised the roof with praise and hoots.
She’s also become quite a ‘techno’
because one day, she was shown by her son
a game with rifles and ammo;
she didn’t pull the trigger, just threw the gun!
So, we’ve witnessed her magical touch,
and we’ve watched her grow as a mother
that’s why we love her so much
because she listens quite like no other:
to the children, to friend or neighbour;
to animals all, the birds and bees;
from first moment of pain in labour
to the signs of the childrens’ first sneeze.
To understand life, notwithstanding,
she’s proven that she’s not averse
to showing her full understanding
for the history of our universe!
She’s tried to encourage the children
to discover their genealogical shoots;
it’s only a matter of building
on the story of the family’s roots.
For now, they give her that look,
as eyes glaze over and divert attentions.
But, one day, a sizeable book
on Twitter will be ‘trending’ with mentions.
In the process she’s taken over
the job of IT Director of ops
(the old one instead spent some money)
on Apples galore, which they think are tops!
Her research unearthed some names
that have added footprints to his side.
But, come what may, the same
can’t be said of her poor family’s stride.
So, she’s constantly distracted
by her husband’s interesting story;
though he is often attracted
by prospect of something more gory!
Attention to detail, not retail,
is the secret of her undoubted success,
controlling the penchant for a ‘Sale’.
It’s history or the garden she prefers to address.
It’s not just the secret of surviving;
in a life full of challenging decisions and woe;
it’s the secret of honestly thriving,
the seeds she’s sewn all along that I know
are the key to lasting happiness.
It’s not easy to find words to describe
the reasons or rhymes to express
the extent of her influence that we can ascribe
to the state of our universe.
Whether it’s the magic of a very first cuddle
with her grandchild, or finding the dress
for our Jen, for her wedding, after fuddle,
but I know it all comes together
when family, community and friends,
in fair or even foul weather,
acknowledge good values, which she always defends.
© 2011 John Anstie
Since you stated that this one was the longest poem you’ve ever written, I couldn’t resist, especially because you wrote it as an ode to your wife. And indeed: her approval says it all: you succeeded! Always inspiring to see how true Love makes us excel! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Namaste, Ave, Pax Tibi
Thank you for your comment and compliment, Rombout. I appreciate it.
Just WOW! 🙂
…apart from a WOW from the Linnet. I am wow’d by the fact you actually read it, Abi. Thanks very much. I actually don’t think this is technically a very good poem; the metre in the lines is too short – three and four feet alternately – it would in retrospect have been better served by good old iambic pentameter. But the description of my wife is true to her.
this is epic in scope. a fine bit of story telling…
Thanks for your comment, Brian, and welcome to my blog. I see you have more expansive interests and have been here for a lot longer. I am now following you, at http://www.waystationone.com/, as often as I can. Are you on Twitter?
My wife approves of this poem, which is all the approval I need.