CHILDREN WALKING

refugee child

When I was ten and very poorly, I was sent to a kind of hospital school three
hundred miles away from my home to get better.  I felt so lost, unhappy and
alone, I ran away on a night thick with snow, determined to get back home.
I’d read all the stories of children on their own – Hansel and Gretel, Snow
White, the children in the Bible constantly on the move and they consoled
me. 
But here we are, decades later, and like the children in the stories I
told myself all those years ago, they are still being pursued by the inhumanly
vicious.  
When will it end?

   CHILDREN WALKING

That night, in wicked December,
When the moon shone
Through the dark tops of trees
Onto the sparkling snow.
The sea rolling over the silent sand,
The water so cold and slow
Even Neptune was frozen,
Frightened by the frost hardened foam. 

That was the night she began
The three hundred mile walk home.
Sure it would take no time at all. 

She was sick of the great old house
In dark shadow behind her,
With its white beds, white walls
And fierce purple uniforms.
She wanted to sleep in her own bed,
With the candle on the window sill,
Unlit, but ready for any emergency.
A bad dream.  The eerie sound
Of a bogeyman almost upon her. 

As she walked, she remembered
All the stories she had heard
Of children walking.
Walking back to their own home,
Looking for a new one.
Some together.   Some like her, alone.
Walking through flame and fire and snow,
Through desolation. 

She didn’t get home that night,
Neither did they.
Even Neptune almost didn’t make it.
But they remember,
Those children walking alongside each other,
That night in wicked December. 

And still they walk,
Told in new stories of new suffering,
New desolation,
Of new bogeymen now upon them,
Told in the old story of the breakdown of love.  

                                © 2020 Gwen Grant

DUCKS AND CHANCES

ducks in garden

DUCKS AND CHANCES

The last time we were flooded,
Our garden became a sudden pond
For the three ducks who flew down
To swim in this new and exciting
Stretch of water.

The cat, furious, hissed at them
Through the rain-swept window,
Paws trying to push through the glass.

But as I watched them,
Regretting the lavender and philadelphus,
I decided that from now on
I would be like those ducks and take on
All unexpected chances,
Refusing to be chased away
Until I had at least paddled in the water.

                 ©2020 Gwen Grant

Looking Across The Tay

We have a favourite place in Scotland that overlooks the River Tay, so we often just sit there and watch the water.  The Tay is also known as the ‘Silver’ Tay and it really does shine silver.  It’s a very beautiful river.

Behind where we sit, there is an Old People’s Care Home and the ladies are often sat in their little conservatory.  Although they are old and sometimes fragile, you can still see in them the lovely young women they once were.  That they can see the Tay, too, must be a tremendous pleasure to them.

This is the poem I wrote about that Care Home and the ladies.

             LOOKING ACROSS THE TAY

The swans are out again,
Shimmering on the dark water,
Dipping into the splashes of moonlight
they become moonlight themselves,
Every feather sculpted in light.
Little white snowflake swans
Drifting down the silent river.

Behind us lies the Care Home,
Where glass walls welcome the lovely moon
And one lone bed
With a quilt as red as roses,
Lies empty in a corner.    

The old ladies who live there,
Watching the white and sparkling swans
Sailing on the glittering water,
Dreamily send their pretty, remembered bodies,
Down that golden moonlit path.
Frail little birds
Who soon overtake the swans.

This river and heaven
Must have a lot in common.              

©GWEN GRANT

 

Story Time

I wrote this poem after taking a workshop with children who were writing poems and stories about witches, wizards and things-that- go bump-in-the-night.

I was surprised by how hard line the children’s views were, not only on the use of magic powers, but also on what the ordinary people living in tandem with these often malevolent entities, did in response to them.

The children were very hard line!

                                           STORY TIME

Little children tell stories of things
They know by instinct.
Nothing shocks them.
They know wickedness and knowing it
Both makes and breaks its power.

Little children laugh at those
Who would deny witch and wizard. 

In their stories, the poor man who steals the cows
Has good reason to be out in the dark night.
‘The man needs the cow,’ they reason,
‘Because he has no money
And his children will die without milk to feed them.’

 Smiling,
They lock the old witch under the stairs.
She won’t see the light of day again.
But they allow her cow to burn the poor man’s fingers
And are glad that her punishing spells
Turn his eyes to mud.
                                                             ©gwen grant

 

 

Kiss Kiss

When I first started writing, I didn’t really know what I was doing but, what I did know, was that I loved playing about with words.  That was all I wanted to do, just put them down, play around with them, and see what happened, which was how I first started writing experimental prose.  So experimental, in fact, once a sentence was down, I had no idea where it would lead but I didn’t care.  I just followed the words.  But what I didn’t do was impose a structure or form on these pieces of writing.
At some point, just following the words naturally led on to more structured writing, poems, short stories and longer fiction.  So I would always encourage anyone to just put the words down and see where they lead.  At one point, I bought an old sit-up-and-beg Imperial typewriter which I absolutely loved and which really made me feel a writer!  We paid £15.00 for it. 
Then, the advice always seemed to be to write about what you know but as I got more experienced, what I often did was to start with what I knew and go on from there, as in my  long short story KISS KISS, where I took several grains of truth and built on them.  Here’s an excerpt from that story which was published in an anthology……..

     This is one of the best winters I remember because when I look out of the shop window, I can see the whole street glittering and snow plastered to the sides of the lamp-posts so that they look like Maypoles, only needing a handful of ribbons to finish them off.
      Mr. Grogan came back from delivering the Orders, looks at me, then says, ‘You going out tonight, then?’
     ‘Of course, I’m going out.  It’s Christmas Eve.  I’m going to the Palais.’
     ‘Tut, tut,’ he goes.   ‘Never in, you’re not.  No wonder you were late this morning.’
     But I wasn’t late this morning because I got up with our Joe and walked with him to work.  He starts at half past seven.   It was bitter cold when we got outside but I was sick of lying in bed, watching the clock tick tock tick tock tick tock all night.
    I was glad I’d put my stilettos in my bag because it had just started to snow.  It was so heavy, it was already lying and there was a bit of a wind, so before we’d got to the end of the street, we looked like snowmen.
     That was when Joe said, ‘I’m signing on for the Army.  I’m not waiting to be called up.  I’m fed up of the life here.  There’s got to be more to it than this.’
     I always knew he’d go.
     ‘When are you going to sign on?’ I asked, and he said probably the first week in the New Year.
     ‘Then I’ll be gone by Spring.’
     I want to get away from this town, too, but where my Mam’ll say, ‘Good idea,’ to our Joe.  ‘Get yourself off and learn a trade.’
     To me, she goes, ‘You are not going to Canada, full stop,’ yet he’s only eighteen months older.

ebook Kiss Kiss is available on Kindle and Smashwords.