Poem ~ 1963


Even just writing those numbers creates a feeling in me like 
the shifting of tectonic plates: things will slowly change as, 
together, we’ll outlive one century and cross into another.

This is the summer we begin as the family of five 
we’ll always be, in the council house we’ll grow up in, 
that Dad and Mam will buy, but never leave themselves. 

I have my eyes squeezed shut against the bright summer sun. 
My straightened arms and hands flare as if I might be 
imagining flight, but my sister anchors me to her side.

Let me be the photographer staring down into the lens 
of a Box Brownie, let me really see my mother’s red hair, 
my father’s best trousers, my brother’s barely lived in skin, 

our white socks and Start-Rite sandals, or deeper still – 
the cotton handkerchiefs in our dress pockets, Dad’s tattoos 
hidden under his long sleeved shirt, the sand beneath 

the soil and grass under our feet, the scent in the darkness 
when we opened the coalbunker door, what we knew then,
what we didn’t know, what we were unable to even imagine. 


Oh Lynne, I admire your ability to plumb the depths of memory, expressing the universal in the particular with such accuracy. I'm not sure how, but in describing your own memories you give me access to mine, different though they are, in a way I never could myself. I'm so grateful.
Lynne Rees said…
Thank you so much, Norman. I feel as if I'm walking a fine line when I write about the personal ... but always hope that there's enough there, usually through the imagery, to light the fuse paper to other people's experiences and emotions. Again, big thanks. x