Mr Feis


Mr Feis has a kid at home, where he’s dad,
But he was at school then, when
He was with his other children.
He put his body between those children and a gun,
The last thing he could do,
To do his job.
The last thing he would ever do.

He stepped forward, arms outstretched,
Because sometimes the heart acts,
Before the head has time to think.
In his home there is now, a vacancy,
In another place,
There will be a welcome cry.

Lorraine Mackay

Then and now and will be


And on the hillside
where we stood
the something that passed
between us
as though it were a
tidal current was already
as old and as new as the
Ancient of Days – in the
retrospect and in the
there and then and now
and in the prospect of
all eternity

That light, that current –
illumination and anticipation
launched a something that
is the everything
Immortal –
Yes, something to be
like a song among the stars,
laughing and crying
held safe and aloft and
flying –
on that hillside
held and holding

you and I encountered a
Divine Love and knew it to be
an Undying
in us, primarily
in those graced moments
but also in whomsoever –
and all are ultimately
capable of simply
letting go, and smiling and
then the final thankful sighing –
oh, little one, yes, you
great one

Elevated, celebrated: I love you

Simon Marsh – for JMT, 1960-2018, on the eve of her birthday

First love


We always took a short cut to school. We found that by climbing a wall, then scrambling across the corner of a garden to a second wall we could then climb onto that wall and then jump down into the school grounds. This cut quite a large corner off our walk. This adventure was usually punctuated by a little old lady, the owner of the wall and garden, who used to come out and shake her stick at us and shout loudly. Her dog always barked vigorously. But they never caught anyone. We were too quick for that.

Some years later when my mother came home one day she asked if I would be very kind and take a little dog Sammy for walks after school every day. His owner. Miss Pilgrim, was now too old to take the dog out I wasn’t sure. I didn’t really like taking our own dog, Mac, for walks. He was quite old now and although still very lovable he was very slow. But eventually I agreed. I was somewhat shocked when I discovered that Miss Pilgrim was the owner of the wall and garden we had climbed over and the dog was the one who had barked at us so much. I soon became very fond of Sammy and also of the old lady. Miss Pilgrim. I didn’t know whether she remembered our antics on the wall, but she was always extremely nice. Every day after school I took Sammy for his walk and then had a chat with Miss Pilgrim. She always seemed to appreciate my opinions and we got on very well. She treated me as an equal, as if I was an adult. She also gave me little presents like sweets or chocolates, which I wasn’t allowed at home because my mum said I was getting too fat. When Christmas came mum gave me a present to give her. I can’t really remember what I gave her but it was probably some soap and talcum powder, which was very popular in those days. I remember how pleased she was when I gave it to her. I expect she had other visitors but I never saw anyone else in the house. She gave me a book for Christmas. I still have it somewhere. I loved her and her dog. I suppose they were my first loves outside my own family. Taking Sammy for a walk was great fun. He could walk or run as fast as I could. He didn’t seem to get tired if we went a long way. At weekends I often took him across the fields. I enjoyed his company very much.

We went away for Christmas that year. When we arrived back I insisted on running round to Miss Pilgrim’s house. The plan was that I would take Sammy for his walk and thank her for her present. The house looked different when I got there. Something was wrong, Sammy was not barking. What had happened? A strange lady opened the door when I knocked. “Miss Pilgrim is dead”. She said. I was devastated. I ran home to tell my mother. She went round to the house to find out what had happened. Miss Pilgrim had died suddenly the day after I had seen her last She had a heart condition. I was heart broken and cried for ages. The lady was her niece who lived on a farm in Essex. Sammy was taken to Essex. Mum said we could visit him, when we went to see Uncle Maurice and Auntie Ethel who lived down there. We never did. The niece told Mum how grateful the family was that I took the dog out regularly and visited her aunt. I was thanked for being so loyal and going daily to take the dog out. I was upset about Miss Pilgrim’s death for a long time because it seemed like something very important and special had gone from my life.

Dorothy Crowther

Dear Molly


Dear Molly

It’s that time of night when fear grows tumours. But it’s also when I find a mental clarity which often eludes me these days.

Before I woke I dreamt of the day we met. Once again I saw you, walking towards me through the mist, your face, unaware of watching eyes, wrapped in a dream. And just as it had all those years ago, the veil of your hair, dew-laden, shimmered as if with a thousand tiny pearls. As soon as I saw you, Mol, I swear – the minute I clapped eyes on you – I said to myself: That’s my girl; that’s my girl.

My heart was racing when I woke and there was an ache I’ve not felt for years.

So here I am, writing a letter I won’t send like an old fool. What happened, Mol? What went wrong between us? We were great at first, you can’t deny that. Those early days, when the bed was our universe, was that love?

Having written the word ‘love’, suddenly I’m not sure what it means. I read somewhere that Eskimos have over fifty words for ‘snow.’ If that’s true then ‘snow’ becomes a generality, the heading to a category, like ‘plant’ or ‘animal.’

Maybe ‘love’ is the same.

I’ve got down the thesaurus you got me that Christmas because you were sick of me saying that everything was ‘great.’

Here are some words for love: attraction, desire, passion, adoration. And yes, in those early days we ticked all those boxes. But what about later?

There are other words in that old thesaurus: affection, kindness, friendship, treasure.

It seems to me, Mol, that friendship and affection somehow got lost along the way. How did that happen? Was it laziness? I think on my part it was stupidity. I guess I thought that as we were a couple it was job sorted. I kind of stopped seeing you, if you know what I mean. You were just a necessary presence in my life, like air or water.

I know now you tried to pull me back. ‘Listen to me! Why don’t you LISTEN to me!’ God, how many times did you yell that at me? But why did I need to listen to what I’d already heard a thousand times or about something that didn’t interest me?

That’s the problem, I switched off sight and sound so what was left?

I’ve just thought of Dante’s Inferno. Didn’t he have different levels of Hell? Well maybe there are different levels of love and if you don’t move from one to another you get stuck in a groove until it becomes unbearable. Once kindness, affection and friendship have been worn out there’s nothing left but indifference and ritual.

I’ve heard that you met someone else and are doing just fine. I’m glad, you deserve it. I met someone too and, yes, I’m very happy. Because I learnt my lesson, Mol, I’ve moved to the next level, to the treasure at the heart’s core.

Kath Sunderland

The Parting


It rained.
It rained again.
And then it rained some more.
The wind came howling from the West.
Waves pounding at the shore.
Spring tides, the highest of the year
combined with non-stop gales
destroyed the pier and breakwater
like matchwood swept away,
and along with them my memories
of summer nights upon that beach.
We were what is known as sweet sixteen,
heads full of foolish dreams.
We held each other in the dark
and whispered silly things
like we would not be parted.
We didn’t even last through Spring.
I carved for you a Cupid’s heart
on that breakwater’s underbelly,
just to find when you were gone
I was only one of many.
I put blisters on my hands for you
when I did that breakwater carving,
oh how I cheered above the storm
as I watched the timbers parting.

Colin Armstrong

And if


And if I bathe your weary feet
and if I bring you bread to eat
and if I slake your thirst with wine
and then will you be mine?

And if I bring you meat of boar
and truffles from the forest floor
and blushing fruit fresh from the vine
and then will you be mine?

And if I make a feather bed
and feather pillow for your head
and if our bodies should entwine
and then will you be mine?

And if your seed begins to grow
and will you reap as you shall sow
and if I bear a son so fine
and then will you be mine?

Mary Younger