Hens in Borough Market
Decidedly iffy from the beginning:
mother fleeing father, spells in Homes back home
from India, still thirteen when she finished school –
deprived of a year by a day. Then work
in lonely silence for the doctor and his wife,
dreaming time away, the pay only just
enough to cover the fares.
True, there was a summer stint in Jersey
at the guest house, walking out with Alec,
till the war, the fall of France and threat
of occupation goose-stepped in, so back
to Hampshire – and her brother, home on leave
with Fred, his navy pal, whose eyes lit up,
who wouldn't take no.
Now eighteen, she marries – and regrets it
before the day is done. She has to choose
her nuptial bed: with Fred and his brother
or the three itching sisters? There were no lessons
in literature or legend for a bookworm
(who chose the sisters) to glean when faced
with riddles such as this.
Two years on, and toughened by service in the Wrens,
she thinks that when the fighting's over
she might just manage to break free – then finds
that she's with child. Me. But I have no face
as yet, no claim, so, desperate for some way out
she takes a massive dose of purgative,
hoping to dislodge me.
It's when she reads the small print she begins to laugh.
Especially beneficial for expectant mothers.
Accidentally saved from sin, she loves the baby
in anticipation. She doesn't know
of all the happiness ahead when, after
widow's grief and guilt, she and Alec meet again.
For now, just her and this child.
Copyright © 2015 Rob Lock
My wife and I start walking the Stour
Valley Path but when we stop and scour
the landscape we seldom see the object of our
interest; crops, a copse, more crops, church tower -
approaching Long Melford, wild flower
heaven - but the river itself will cower
shyly out of sight hour after hour
in Suffolk, while downstream, from Essex, the Stour
is everywhere evident to the viewer.
Egrets and anglers succumb to its lure -
hearty ramblers to that of the brewer
at a riverside pub, and amblers tour
Constable Country no matter how dour
the day. Down there the river is never obscure.
Copyright © 2016 Rob Lock
Hens in Borough Market
More Grecian Urn than Last Supper,
the party at the large table turn
to tableau as hundreds flood past
the picture windows, struggling to escape
some nearby horror – though the slaughter
and self-sacrifice are truths instantly known,
instantly carved in the gut of each guest –
till Lizzie, silken flanked and garlanded,
comes out with Sorry, got to go,
nurses will be needed, and forces her way
into danger. Welcomed through the cordon,
she scans a scene as vile as any in the all too many
action films she’s let herself - but won’t again -
be dragged to, figuring where to start.
An auxiliary ambulance, doors open,
reveals a trainee, minus airline, flailing –
so into CPR. This woman will live.
The next has already gone. Hard to tell shoulder
from shirt, so much blood. They put her
into a bag. Paramedics now all round,
Lizzie goes back to a still and ravaged bride.
Copyright © 2017 Rob Lock