Photo of Wombwell on autumn night by Paul Brookes
Respite for Noel
Today you would have been eighty-nine,
the same age as your sister-in-law,
two years behind your wife.
Would you have seen the sunshine
over the Teign gorge, or the autumn colours
at Killerton? Or even gone out to dinner
at midday, which you still called lunch,
drunk your one glass of red wine –
French, Italian, Spanish, you wouldn’t mind,
preferring a coffee to a second glass.
The Black Horse would still be open
on the day before Bonfire Night,
the last before another lockdown,
while we wait to hear how America voted.
I can’t help but be glad that you were spared
the ordeals of frailty, deprivations, bad news,
happy memories of other birthdays
that could not be re-lived.
I’m not taking my heart out tonight, no,
letting it stay in. With the fireworks
and everything, keeping it away some.
Find a quiet nook, with a little snack
in a bowl, bit of comfort food, yes. Yes,
I’m going out, celebrate, empty sleeve,
not so inebriate – wouldn’t want to
leave it on its own mostly, wouldn’t want…
Truth is, I’m not so good at looking after it,
wouldn’t have it if I hadn’t been left with it,
very demanding, quiet often, when it does
play, usually it’s me ending up having a cry…
So I’m not letting my heart out tonight
with the fireworks, leave it in tonight.
Bios And Links
-Peter J Donnelly
lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Lampeter University. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Dreich, in which the attached poem previously appeared. He recently won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.
is London-born, but is now based in Oxford. He has two books published: Sabrina Bridge, a poetry collection, from Black Pear Press (2017), and The Knotsman, a collection of verse, rhyme, prose and poetic monologue, which tell of the life and times of a C17th cunning-man. Much of his verse comes out of mythology and folklore: encounters with the uncanny and unseen. Also, as words written for Pagan ritual or as praise poems for a multitude of goddesses and gods. He is a trained actor and performs his poems widely.