The ukulele, not best for Danny Boy,
means unaccompanied, we gravel to begin;
our chariot choir sings high and low,
though jointly note the middle range.


Despite harmonious melody,
the Dublin-born disputes the tune
is Londonderry Air, an Ulster name.
But with Guinness I have heard
plantation words alongside craic,
and Prot bars resound republican.
We warble words with the chorus girls,
a hurting leg, Jack’s grunt refrain.


Out the door, politics; here we laugh
at wheelchair three point-turn or six
in this space, confined, it’s like
our repartee, the discourse of humanity,
Areopagus of fun.


Kim, the crochet girl has brought a bag
of kitchenalia to identify.
This largely plastic crowded tray
whets few appetites today.


With glove stretchers, I had never need
of tongs to empty sauce sachets,
or the mango stone remover,
the sandwich cutter which prevents
squashed jam seeping from bread edges.
Yesterday sachets and mangoes
were not in the scullery,
or indeed between my teeth,
while butter or jam were choice,
and crustiness, grandpa’s trait,
an ingredient of life.


Because the baby has been born
half-knit blue cardigan
has sleeves now turning pink;
desultory chair exercise
brings the needles overhead.

This group, hive christened,
and we its bees;
some come from ever-silent rooms
and travel here without sound,
broken-winged, as if the sting
already taken from our tale.


Once my thought-question
slipped from lips;
it might have searched opinions,
we could have shared spoken debate,
we might have made a meal of it.
But when the leader googles phone,
the answer served on a plate,
then beehive becomes an igloo still,
snake-charmer’s basket on its head,
and honey comb cannot mature.


The yellow high-viz jacket wears
a button hole, woollen daffodil,
but insists it to be a crocus flower.
In stitches
he offers me its curling bloom to smell;
we are back to buzzing
and that perfume claims the room.




Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash


Used by permission of the author.

Stephen Kingsnorth

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over ...more