Thursday, 29 October 2009
In recent weeks I have hit the Family History trail again, this time following up my dad's mum's line in the South Hams in Devon. Via Genes Reunited, I was delighted to discover a new 2nd cousin (our g. grandfathers were brothers). She has just sent me a lovely parcel of family photos and certificates, including my g. grandfather's death certificate. That has given us both quite a shock, as we discovered that he had committed suicide, by drowning.
I was gardening yesterday afternoon, and as I weeded the very overgrown bed I was able to give this much thought, and came in and wrote this poem to his memory. He had been widowed in 1904, when his wife died aged only 37 (and quite probably of the bowel cancer which claimed her daughter, my gran, at the age of 41) and was left with two little girls to bring up alone. He became a publican for several years, but this obviously all came to an end during the First World War and on his death certificate his occupation was "sawyer, Journeyman", which I believe means he was paid by the day, however skilled he was (he had originally been a Journeyman Baker).
The tide sucks at the river, making boats lurch and sway,
Eddying round the ladder clamped to the stone wall,
Reflecting the moon like Van Gogh's' Starry Night,
Ripping the stars to shreds in the current
As it argues its way down the leat,
Spreading like a silent scream of watery echoes,
Edging busily up the brickwork, lifting the tangles
Of seaweed like a mermaid's tresses.
Combing them with salty fingers and leaving them to float.
It beckons to the silhouette on the footpath,
Writing his name in immortality, promising
A future where there can be none. Weak flatterings and
Blandishments it makes to him, cajoling, enticing,
Coaxing movement from that lonely figure,
Offering one last embrace, no questions asked.