A golden sheet

I saw your soul like that of a wild bird

Someone other guided me to act
Deep inside my voice had been unlocked
I sang the psalms and then a lullaby
Not aware in thought that you would die.

I fed you with a teaspoon the mashed fish
From a plate as good as one might wish
Like a little child you tried your best
You smiled at me and gazed like one who’s blessed

You sat up with a brighter face at last
Then lay back and God knows all the rest

Oh, don’t go yet ,my darling,I am here
The floor of heaven came down amidst my tears
Made of sumptuous satin, gold,revered
For a little moment it hung low
Then it rose and took you in its glow
I saw your soul like that of a wild bird
Taken by the Power who spoke the Word

A sheet of tears fell down from my closed eyes
It’s hard ,so hard when those you love must die

Oh, gentle Light

I ‘ll try to get it right just one more time
You did not converse with me in words
You were simply present with your Light

Nowhere did I feel your power and might
You were no eagle, but a little bird
I ‘ll try to get it right just one more time.

Who made our language with its subtle rhymes?
The ancient people  had their well trained Scribes
You were always there,oh gentle Light

You  gave me warmth, you  changed my too fixed sight
A comforter , a Spirit, how describe?
I ‘ll try to get it right a final time.

The agony inside me lost its bite
I wanted to go on, to be alive
You  do not always show your golden Light

We do not know  when we at last arrive
We do not reach this  meeting place by strife
I ‘ve tried to get it right this final time
I never saw such  Gold until that night

For a moment everything was still

Religion has been privatised like gas
I know in church we still can hear the Mass
Yet  no Chaplain comes to dying men
I did my best alone without a plan.

Inside the  holy sanctuary  bare
I became the priest and comforter
I sang the sacred songs and  gathered crowds
Outside our little cubicle they bowed

I saw a canopy of golden cloth
Hanging down from heaven, as it does
It came nearer till it touched his soul
I was silent, love can’t take control

For a moment everything was still
A little bird sat on the windowsill
Then the cloth of gold was lifted high
I wept  the precious tears for those who die.

That one eternal moment gave us grace
I see your  deep blue eyes, your smiling face

Essex cornfields

Saturday was shopping then a walk Epping,Ongar,Finchingfield by car

Reading book reviews and chewing stalks

Buttercups and meadows,Henry Moore

Driving back from Chelmsford, cornfields flamed

Smoke and fire and earth, the sun dismayed

Farmers working hard, a harvest, grain

The sky through mist a cobalt blue displayed

Standon with its fords and wandering cows

Little rivers,Essex, flowing down

The Stort joins with the Lea,a gurglimg sound

Water for the Thames and mossy ground

The earth feels like my body sacrificed

The artist’s canvas stretched ,a matricide

[Does God live there any more?]

Come here ,Kathryn, come here quick,
‘Cos your Daddy’s very sick.
Run as fast as fast, you can,
Get the priest, get Father Dan.
Run,run went my eight year old feet,
Down the lane and up the street
I ran right up to Father’s door,
[Does God live there any more?]
“Come please, Mam said Daddy’s ill”
“Oh”,said Father,”that I will.”
Revving up his motor bike
With The Sacrament beside;
He lifted me up onto the back
And roared off up the church-side track.
It was the best thrill of my life;
If only Daddy had not died.


On a motorbike with God

There were three of us on this motorbike,
Father Dan with me,
And he had Jesus in his bag.
That makes the total three.

Transubstantiation, oh my Lord
I looked at his black bag.
Is Jesus inside there, I thought?
Should it have a tag?

It’s a secret never told
Father Dan gave it me to hold.
So I had Jesus in my lap,
No wonder now I feel a gap.

We zoomed off up an unmade road
As fast as Dan could go.
I felt bewildered and bemused,
I loved my Daddy so.

Father Dan took back his bag,
And went inside our house.
I got my marbles out to roll,
I feared I’d see a mouse.

So Three of had taken a ride
And after that, my Dad had died.
Father Dan said Mass today
Still with Jesus, so I cried.

Wakening up in the winter

The sun ignores the dark leaved compact tree.

All is silent waiting some decree.

Like a prisoner standing in the dock

Imagining the key that turns the lock

is it bird song, is it my alarm?

In the winter morning holds less charm

Once I had a loved one in my bed.

Are my feelings better left unsaid?

The river in the Chilterns

I wish I were in Hertfordshire again

The River Lea a small and sparkling stream.

As I sit here clutching my gel pen

Facing a blank page, oh paper clean

I think about our holidays and walks

Now I barely get across the room.

I miss you for your feelings and the thoughts.

Sitting on the riverbank relaxed

Where has gone my treasure once unsought?

All alone I sit here and reflect

Loving these quiet memories I have brought

Once your love was here but now it’s gone

You float away like water over stones.

A little peace

One damaged cell can divides  until it kills.

For in the end we pay the rich man’s bills.

The air polluted ravages and maims

Now it’s cruelly late to curse and blame

Oh sister how we played  with our dolls’ prams

In our industrial  town there were no lambs.

No sheep could safely graze in smokey streets.

No lark would rise amazed, the dawn to  greet.

For you my sister breathed in that bad air

We hear  the tread, the  foot steps on the stair.

So patient stil, I wish that you would shout.

From your eye I see one tear fall out.

My single sister I can see your pain

Your lips are dry you cough and cough again.

Your mouth is hurting so you cannot eat.

And on the telephone you barely speak

In the world  some million others groan

Yes we’re fragile merely flesh and bone

Even so the tears run in my sleep.

Into my face these tears will slowly seep.

I didn’t grasp at first that she would die

And leave me here alone to curse and cry

Hold me in your arms my kindly friends.

From your touch a little peace descends

Mary sees the rheumatologist

First posted on July 29, 2019

Mary went to the hospital to see the rheumatologist.The entire hospital had been re-built and half the site wasnow full of so called “Executive Homes”
She and Annie took a cab as it was raining hard.Although Mary was wearing her new green raincoat, she did not like to get it wet.
Where did you buy your mac,Annie enquired jauntily?
Cotton Traders,Mary admitted nervously.It looked lighter than it is and Stan liked me in green
You already have two trenchoats and a nylon mac,Annie told her.
And Stan is no longer here
What’s it to you? you want me to give all my money to the poor?
Well, some of it,Annie responded anxiously.You need to pay your utilities.

My utilities!That sounds like something sexual that cannot be openly named,Mary cried
You are confusing it with urethra, Annie laughed
What is my ethra? whispered Mary
No, the urethra is a little tube for the bladder to empty itself through
Isn’t the human body amazing? Mary acknowledged using a cliche for better effect
Definitely, said Annie and I love wearing beautiful clothes like velvet
Where do we draw the line though, between looking good and giving money to the poor, tortured or victimised,Mary pondered

It is hard now because we can see what the rich have and we want it.Annie shouted calmly
Or in your case you can see all those philosophy books on Amazon and buy them with one click she continued.
Mary could see in her mind’s eye her living room piled high with books but if she were rich like Michael Frayn she could have a huge house full of shelves and desks.
Adam Phillips,’ room looked more full than Mary’s and he must want it like that as he is well off.

In the waiting room Mary looked at Wittgenstein’s biography by Ray Monk on her kindle while Annie read The Sun.
Soon Mary was called in
Hello, said Doctor Morse.How are you?
In the pink , she cried shyly.
I don’t understand that, he said in his kindly way
It’s an old English saying.It means I feel fine, but I don’t really that’s why I am here
He looked at her left hand. and said there was no cartilege between the the thumb and wrist.
Where has it gone,Mary asked but he remained silent
Then he said,I think steroid injections will help.Would you turn your chair round by 180 degrees so you can put your arm on my desk?
Mary turned round and felt a bit dizzy
It’s hard getting older isn’t it, the doctor said in a tone rather artificially kind like a bad actor on stage and afraid of forgetting his lines or whether he was in King Lear or a Comedy
Mary burst out laughing, to her surprise.
You are a weird person, the told her thoughtfully with his green eyes shining like the sun over Lake Windermere in October.
Well, we can’t all be exactly the same ,she told him logically
Then she had to turn her chair round again. despite her poor hands
Why don’t you have swivelling chairs ,she asked pointedly
They won’t give me enough money, they doctor said, even though I a Consultant and I have published lots of papers
Can’t you buy a second hand chair? Mary wondered
No, it has to pass Health and Safety,Dr Morse whispered cautiously
I see.Well don’t blame it all on the EU.
I love the EU, he told her.I hope Brexit evaporates
Me too she croaked sweetly
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes until his next patient arrived
I will see you in September, he told her optimistically his smile making her giggle inside so her body shivered with suppressed laughter or terror.

Miaow, cried Emile from Mary’s designer handbag
What in Gd’s name is that, the doctor asked nervously

Don’t worry doctor.I forgot to leave Emile in the Waiting Room
Emile stuck out his head and smiled at Dr Morse
Good morning, he said graciously.Is Dave the paramedic here?
No, they are not here they have their own Ambulance Station down the road
Emile began to sob as he liked to get his own way by any means he could
Mary apologised as she shook hands with the doctor.
Thank you for helping me, she murmured.I feel better already
And so say all of


I knew myself in his face when he lived

But now I have no mirror,I’m alone.

I learned myself reflected in his love.

An actual mirror seems like a dull stone

I was alive when mirrored his eyes

For those who hate us do not give us life.

What’s the answer when when the loved one dies?

Without a husband there can be no wife.

All alone my blood seems not to flow.

The wellspring of my heart is arid,dry.

My hands curl up protective on my heart

I have no tears and so I cannot cry.

Yet I bleed inside from every part.

So where is my reflection, where my grace?

I feel I cannot live without his face.

Stan wears a nightdress in the heat


Alfred my old cat

The weather in Knittingham was rather hot.Mary was away giving a lecture on Dirac’s thoughts  in Oxford and Stan felt lonely.He rang Annie but she was out.
So he said to Emile
I am going to bed early.Have you had enough to eat?
Definitely,cried Emile,who had just licked all the cream off two meringues in the larder.So Stan went upstairs.He took off all his clothes and admired his thin body in the mirror.
Not bad for 97,he muttered.
Now what shall I put on?
He found his pyjamas too hot so on an impulse he opened Mary’s wardrobe and found a cotton nightdress.It was a bit big for him but definitely cooler than  his pyjamas.He cleaned his teeth and washed himself before falling into bed with,The Other Ariel a book about Sylvia Plath’s poetry and how Ted Hughes had altered the order of her poems and even removed some from the book .Ariel,which made her name.The doorbell rang.Each time it played a different tune out of the 90 in its repertoire.
He  ran downstairs and opened the door.There stood two policemen.
They stared a the handsome old man with elegant hands
Hello.Sir.I hope we have not interrupted you?
No,I am just reading in bed. on my own
Do you always wear a nightgown?
This is the first time,he told them humorously.
I felt very hot so I decided to wear my wife’s gown.
And just  where is your wife?
What’s it got to do with you,he enquired  unceremoniously.
Just tell us,the older policeman said brusquely
She’s at a conference in Oxford giving a talk.About Dirac or Riemann or another nitwit.
Can we come in? the policeman said.
May we come in,Stan corrected him;not a good idea on the whole,especially in the USA where the police have guns.Luckily all  our police have  here are rubber gloves in case people ask them to wash up after having a  cup of tea.
What is wrong? said Stan.
We have found a naked woman walking  in the High Street.She says a man stole her clothes.For various reasons we think it might be you.
But  if she was in the High Street she’d  be in proper clothes not a nightdress,surely ,Stan  murmured.
But you like women’s clothes….. we can see.
No,I don’t,  the old man shouted.
I told you I was too hot.And in my own home I can wear anything I like.
Sometimes I wear a  prayer shawl
Are you Jewish? they asked.
Only a little, but I inherited it from a great grandfather who married out.
Out of what? the police asked
He married out of his faith.He was longing  for a bacon sandwich.
Surely marrying  just to eat a bacon sandwich is a bit over the top.
Well,that was his story.Maybe he was tired of obeying the Ten Commandments so he broke most of them.
Which ones?
He committed adultery once when his wife had a nervous breakdown ; he lost his head and went to bed with his neighbour’s wife.
And  where was his neighbour?
At the psychiatric unit visiting my great grandmother.Stan admitted uneasily.
Well,at such times we all do odd things,the  older policeman  advised him.
Thank you for your frankness,Sir.I can see you are not a criminal.
Thank the Lord,said Stan as he went into the kitchen and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea to save ringing 999
I am lucky not to be in a cell and Mary would have had to come home.She would have been cross, he told Emile.Anyway monks wear habits.
But who had stolen the clothes off the woman in town? A mystery  to be studied with Annie when she got home.
At last Stan relaxed and went back to bed with  his books
This is the last time I  ever wear a nightdress he whispered to Emile who was  by his side.
And so hope all of us.