What was and what is

willow house

It wasn’t a village, just a hamlet

of five houses and two farms,

a high place of wind and snow

and tepid sunshine,

and all along the horizon the hills strode,

carrying rocks and sheep and dry stone walls

from time was

to what will be—

my childhood home.


There was peace among the hawthorn hedges

where foxgloves grew and blackbirds

and the wilderness of stream

and young birchwood beyond,

all gone now

beneath functional tarmac and four car families,

the wilderness tamed for bridle paths,

and the sheep have gone the way of the cows.


Perhaps that is why I love this place,

this here of mine, stamped out of memories,

mine and old folk’s I never knew,

still quiet and green,

the hills closer, softer and the sun warmer,

but the peace drops the same,

like honey or an owl’s downy feathers.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

23 thoughts on “What was and what is”

      1. I know that feeling, I often wander in thoughts back to my grandparents farm where I grew up, it’s gone now but holds so many unforgettable ghosts and memories.

      2. It’s so strange that we all look back on these places with nostalgia but we still tear them down or ‘improve’ them or build roads through them. As if we get collective amnesia when it comes to modernity.

      3. the Georgia Dept of Transportation, imagine this tiny little country town with an expressway planned and an overpass running right through one’s property making it necessary to tear the house down and then not build the overpass in full. grrr.

      4. Sounds like the kind of thing friends do for one another. Your friend’s a contractor, you give them a job handsomely paid, and it doesn’t matter if they never finish it because it’s not necessary anyway.

      5. exactly, plus the state wanting funds from the gov’t. I don’t know how it works but such a pity! Anyway I adore your poem and the photograph, lovely Jane.

  1. The title seems very Oracle-inspired, and of course, she knows of was and is and what might be. It sounds lovely, and it’s interesting that you found a place that reminds of your childhood home.

    1. I think it’s the memory of the quiet and the lane with hardly any traffic on it. And all the birdlife and wildlife. After decades of living in a city it was time to get back to something greener.

      1. No. Hated it. But it was really noisy. It doesn’t have to be; there are quiet neighbourhoods everywhere. You just have to be able to afford to live in one!

  2. My, this verse is moving! It’s good and important that the current home carries a stamp of the first home. Best of old and new. Quiet and green peace, dropping like honey (I’m thinking about the honey I drop from a spoon into my herbal tea) or feathers. Simply grand the way you tell the story and inform the present.

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