Lost childhood

'Mother_and_Child,_Volendam',_drypoint_with_hand-applied_watercolor_by_Charles_W._Bartlett

Take my hand and hold it tight
As you used to do when you were small
And trusted me to keep you safe
On the woodland path where the trees grow tall.
Take my hand and walk with me
To the place you loved where the long grass grows
And you’d thread your daisies ’neath the trees
Where the river glides and the west wind blows
Take my hand and talk to me
The child who prattled endlessly
But now is grown and forgets she knew
The song the moon sings to the sea.

Poem for my parents

Time was

Once there was a time
when a house stood on a hill
filled with poems and a deep, warm voice.
The scent of turps and linseed oil
hung heavy and mysterious
amid the comforting smell of baking pastry.
Home was a ship riding a grassy sea
and green hills ran along the rim of the world.

They are gone now, into the shadows
with the home they made to hold our dreams.
But I will keep the memory of those times,
bright as a summer morning
until I too go into the shadows
beyond the rim of green hills.

Small wonder

In the deep of the night
When the air is still and the dark clings,
I stand at the window and breathe in the scent of childhood.
Only at night, when the city’s hum is silent—
Engines, motors, kitchens shut down—
Does it flood back, the thrill of childhood holidays,
Borne on the breath of a garden.
The scent of pine resin fills the air,
Hot exotic leaves, dry, non-British earth,
And the smell of southern plants, headier than jasmine.
Only at night, the heat that simmers
Releases memories of waking
On that first morning in a foreign place.
Indescribable scent of another summer,
A place shared for a few weeks,
Borrowed then boxed away with the souvenirs.

In the still of a summer’s night
The scent returns to haunt me.
Childhood wonderment at the subtle difference in the texture of the air,
Contentment with an odour caught on the breeze.
Leaning on the sill, in the stilly night,
Before engines and motors break the spell,
The wonderment is still there,
And memories crowd, drawn by the scent of resin.
Though the subtle difference has been commonplace
For half a lifetime now,
It eases the heart, and fills it with a joy
That reaches back through the years
To join hands with a child.