Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Shrew who knew.

I met an old lady in the forest today,
A weathered tarmagent shrew,
She bound me in the noose of chat
and told me all she knew.
She said “clipping hair is a waste of time
it always grows back again
despite the fact that it's dead,
and died free from pain.
People are like childhood diseases,
endure them and quickly pass on
by the greedy and well dressed, they're vulgar,
ignore them, they'll soon be gone.
The practise of hardship
is the one true religion,
Reason has no life of it's own,
the back stroke of revenge swims everywhere,
thought and tongue rarely agree,
you must trust yourself alone.
Colourful and useless as a cage of canaries
are the colons and commas of the mind,
a morsel of ground, a handful of grains,
are more than enough to bind.
Condemn the parson, poverty,
never neglect the poor,
care for the sick and the maimed,
banish disease from your door.
Fence only with words, sing with the birds,
make friends with bramble and tree,
pray direct to your maker
to guide all your dreams
and set all your losses free.
There is no evil in the bag of sin
where is the law for mute swans?
the clay is your mother and father
only earth can loosen your bonds.”
I'm off now” she said, “I have further to go,
and must gather fresh herbs for my tea,
think of me now and then, and if you have time
say a prayer for yourself and for me”.


  1. The spirit of a Russian legend set to sound -- no instruments needed: the words, themselves, are the oboes, basses, flutes. Intriguing and incisive metaphors delivered with authority, juxtaposed at the end with the resumption of the ordinary ("must gather fresh herbs for my tea") . . . which somehow brings a smile. So beautifully written.

  2. Turquoise, Patience and I really did go down to the forest this morning with a group of fifty schoolchildren on a guided tour with all the bits and pieces. While we were there we met a number of people walking, among them an old lady who was full of her own wisdom and had all the answers. Her general theme was that 'children nowadays know nothing'. When we came home Patience and I jotted down our reflections of that walk and meeting the old lady. This is how the poem came about. The verses were more reaction than reflection. Your comment has made us both extremely happy.
    God bless and thank you. Prodigal.

  3. Oh, she's real. That's funny!

    Did she happen to look Russian? (just kidding . . .)

  4. Older ladies look similar to me but this one was wearing a ushanka and strumming a balalaika. Is that any indication?
    Regards P+P.

  5. Reminds me of a solitary stroll high over Cercedilla where a gentle crew engaged as I passed by. But, disentangling, a world-weary asked why I passed the way and if there was none to join me. The answer was painfully obvious to me but maybe not to her.
    I hear her speak through the rough and smooth of your finely chosen allegories.