Polly

Writings and Witterings


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Mabel

Mabel by Anne Challis July 2017.jpg

Lovely little Mabel, just 20 months old – photo by Anne Challis – she looks like butter wouldn’t melt…don’t be fooled 🙂

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Two Companion Poems

These are two of the poems that I wrote for Mike Alma’s poetry anthology Voices of 1919 published in 2016. There is a special performance of Voices of 1919 poetry by distinguished local actors on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September, at Elmsleigh Hall, Elmslie House, 8 Avenue Road, Great Malvern WR14 3AG–7pm until 9pm plus an interval

Bells Toll

Eliza Ruscoe at number thirteen
cocks her head, hears the bells toll,
she can tell the time by this and John,
husband, signalman, will be home soon,
carrying the metallic whiff of Brasso-clean levers
and fusty yellow dusters, faintly grey.
She serves stew, high in vegetables,
war-grown in the garden
where hens peck;
it used to be full of flowers,
now all chicken shit and veg.
She thinks of her boys
and their hollow legs,
smiles,
looks forward to filling them up again,
thanks to an absence of telegrams.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

John – the Signalman

He uses the yellow dusters
with the red, blanket-stitched edges
to shine the upright levers,
covering confusion and fear.
He was brought up with a stiff upper lip;
a trembling mouth was a sign of weakness.
He shows no worries for his two boys,
or ecstasy on their return,
though he feels it deep inside.
Deep down inside his joy
sits, welling up,
and his chest lifts,
a picture of pride in his sons.
His well-ordered existence
for once made a pleasure,
for they are coming home.
Coming home.

Polly Stretton © 2016
First published in Voices of 1919 (2016)

Front cover - Voices of 1919


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House, Kennack Sands. Cornwall – Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt

Love this House – ‘blisters and…overgrown gutters’ – Wow!

House, Kennack Sands. Cornwall

House teeters on the cliff’s high edge,
looks out across the drizzling, grizzled shoreline.
House must keep her head in the clouds
so she is careful never to look down.
House is stubborn, built square and stout.
Once her feet were planted in tomorrow.
Now the red earth retreats, loosens its grip,
shifts a little more with every day.
But still House goes on. Stares out the weather.
Hears the grey gulls squabble and screech.
Her blue eyes are dull. Her roof, her stone,
knows the end of things will come when it will.
Let waves crash and roar, let wind have its way;
let the elements perform their very worst.
House stands for all that. She endures her undoing,
loves her blisters and her overgrown gutters;
finds something to honour in her damp
and rotting timbers and her long neglected flaws.
House is bold, defiant…

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My Brother’s Coming Home

Nurse, mother with baby
and big brother,
stand outside the bleak,
utilitarian Ronkswood hospital.
Big brother, a little boy, is excited; it’s time
to take his brother home.

‘Look at his tiny hand, Mum.
‘Why’s he wrapped like that?
‘When will he start talking?
‘Does he cry a lot?
‘Dad says he’ll be sleeping
‘and won’t want me playing trains.
‘Is that right, Mum? Can I, can I
‘play with trains again?’

‘He won’t be playing trains with you
‘for quite a long while yet,
‘but he’ll need his big brother,
‘and look, see what he’s got?
‘There’s a little tiny gift
‘that he’s brought along for you.
‘Can you see what it is yet?
‘An engine, royal blue.’

Polly Stretton © 2017
Written for the George Marshall Medical Museum, Worcester Royal Hospital

This poem was part of a project organised by Charley Barnes for the Curator of the George Marshall Medical Museum Louise Price. Follow this link to see fellow poet on the project and Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s description—find out more!

 


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Sunrise On Midsummer Morning—David Calcutt

Sunrise on Midsummer Morning
 
A full moon falling, the sky lit
with last night’s charred and crumbling embers

across the field, thin spills of misty light

visiting spirits haunt the hedges
or try a cry in the canal’s bandaged ear

dung reeks and steams, a horse’s hoof strikes home

and out of the trees the great bird rises
wings spread and beating the sky into flame

and the great egg of the world is hatched

with an outflung shout and tumble of voices
many and many, song of all songs.

*

Later on oak’s shoulder
an owl puts on a mask of light

and the big mothers with their babies
stand among thistles and stare.

David Calcutt is a playwright, poet and novelist. He is the author of four novels and three collections of poetry. His plays have appeared in the theatre and on BBC radio. He lives in…

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Take A Look At This…

A good friend of mine, Heather, whom I haven’t seen in far too long, says ‘I have performed this piece so many times now! Getting on for 40 this year alone. Here is the original recorded version by request. The live performance has developed and I take more time over it now – CRT commissioned a 6-minute piece and it turned out to be exactly that length without me having to edit it. It’s good to hear the real Emma and Nancy, and the lovely engines I recorded, and see photos of some of the ‘Idle Women’. The next time I perform it will be at the Barley Mow, Newbold on Monday. See www.alarumtheatre.co.uk for the remaining tour dates.’

Watch this YouTube of the poem, it’s amazing!