Tuesday, August 5, 2008


My mother said the snow fell thick
That Stephen’s morn so long ago,
Although the ward roared like a stove.
Outside, the little chestnut grove
Wore cheerily its hat of snow,
As pink-cheeked children stooped to pick
Up handfuls with excited yells.
And o’er the town, St. Clements’ bells
Pealed joyously the news that I
Was born that day, she used to laugh,
While the cottage hospital staff
Ate threadbare mince-pies on the sly.

Sometimes, while wanting to unwind
Or waiting for the hand of sleep
To cradle me and brush my hair,
I find myself once more back there.
The snow again lies thick and deep,
The building dark and ill-defined.
No tinkling laughter lights the gloom.
I peer inside the darkened room
But all is dead and all is cold.
I tap the frosted pane and scream,
Knowing well I’m in a dream,
But knowing too that I am old.

I’ve not been back, ‘cept in my mind,
Since leaving on that New Year’s Day,
Encased in layer on layer of wool.
And now? The Cottage Hospital
May be a car park or a grey
Apartment complex ill-designed.
‘Tis nothing – just a piece of earth
That once bore witness to my birth.
No ties, no chains. We chose to roam.
The candle grew not to a torch.
It flickered briefly in the porch,
Then blackness overtook my home.

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