Tuesday 2 April 2013

Queen of the Gypsies

I couldn't sleep last night. At 1 a.m. I took painkillers, but my mind wouldn't stop working and so I crept out of bed, and wrote this:


Gap-toothed and clothed in the black
Of perpetual mourning,
She lived a half-life,
In an old wooden cabin, behind
Greying net curtains and
Four waving pine trees.
I knew her for a witch.

On Sundays her sons came visiting,
With the dock-tailed cob and the trolley cart,
Leading Mandy to the shed around the back
They tied her up.

Dutifully they took tea,
Watching as Queenie mumbled seed cake.
Bringing her coal and kindling, they
Told her how their families got on,
Feeding her gossip eough for the week,
And left. 

If I was playing by the cherry tree,
She would always notice, and
Cross the road, fumbling her apron pocket  
And pinching my cheek with sandpaper fingers.
She would smile horridly, and
Press a pack of three wrapped biscuits in my hand.
They were always soft.  

This evokes such strong memories in me, and I am back living in the 1950s in my head this morning.  I can still feel the fear of seeing the "witch" coming towards me.. .  Bless her, she must have been so lonely, and had obviously been a loving mum.

Hopefully I have just got rid of the white background and green lettering that came from typing it up as an office document, and then cutting and pasting.


  1. Beautiful! I know exactly the feeling you're talking about; childhood fears that dissipate as an adult. A lovely way to start the morning, thank you.

  2. Maythanks for that Em. It was just something I needed to write down as it wouldn't leave my head alone and kept writing itself until I was scared to loose my "words". The middle bit is weak and needs working on, but hey, it's a start.

  3. Lovely poem. It brought home to me me how our perceptions of childhood fears and experiences changes as we get older.

    So glad you have started an Edward Thomas blog - off to visit it now :)

  4. Lovely poem - it has a lot of reminders of my childhood in it too - gypsies were a great part of life in those days.

    Good luck with the Edward Thomas.

  5. Excellent poem, glad to see another blog up and running on Edward Thomas. One day this nasty cold weather will disappear and you will feel better I'm sure.

  6. hank you all. You have given me the confidence to post another of my "pomes"!

  7. Truly beautiful 'painting' with words - you gave me a gateway to travel there with you, sharing the events/memories/emotions.....

    And isn't it interesting (which you also pointed out wonderfully) how differently we view people/events/actions as children as opposed to the way we see them as older adults. As you said, how lonely she must have been. Not something easily seen or understood as a child.

    Memorable writing - thank you....