The stones in the path

For dverse. I hope this counts as a poem.

The stones in the path

We would watch for the bus going past on the lane, know it would stop outside Mitchell’s barn, run out the back gate up the farm track.
The pavement of stone flags outside the houses was cracked sunken, unused.
The ruts were deep, full of coloured stones, green and blue, not river-smooth, not pebbles, bright and sharp as flints.
We’d run and she’d be there, turning into the track ,with her shopping basket and handbag, wearing her white suit with dark blue spot-and-shadow markings, like the breast feathers of a great solitary bird. An osprey maybe
Her shoes were dark blue, with laces and tiny holes in the leather. Her hair was a white bob, cheeks apple-round with smiling.
I’d get there first, hang onto the shopping bag, peep inside, the deep blue-purple of chocolate bars, and I would smile back,
turn my step to hers, walking, still hanging onto the bag, chattering, though that world is silent now.
That world is silent, but I remember every green stone, every throb of the starlings’ babbling on the telephone wires, every pulse of that warm, haunted heart.

even in the puddles
those days.


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.

38 thoughts on “The stones in the path”

    1. She told us stories, but was more inclined to give us stories to read. Folktales and mythology. My great-grandmother and great-aunt told us stories. I remember loving the Oscar Wilde stories best.

      1. Ha ha! No, though an aunt and uncle in Wicklow knew Brendan Behan. They knew the stories he wrote for children, The Selfish Giant, and that terribly sad one about the statue of the prince and the swallow.

  1. ‘Is this poetry,’ you ask? No worries, Sister. If somebody asked me for an example of the perfectly poetic haibun, I’d direct them here, to this outstanding recollection. Thank you.

  2. This poem just slays me, the poignancy harking back to those early years that loom so large in memory now. I especially love her suit “like the breastfeathers of a great solitary bird.” And I can see her, with her white bob, “cheeks apple-round with smiling.”

    1. They were the days when families stayed very close, only a few streets or a bus ride away. I missed having that proximity when I had children and now that I have a first very small grandchild, the distance is still a burden.

  3. A delightful haibun for a delightful grandmother, Jane, and wonderful memories! I love the close descriptions of the stone flags and the stones in the ruts. My nan always had a handbag and a shopping bag or trolley. And the haiku is just the way I remember things.

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