I remember your hand in mine as we scrambled over slippery Scottish rocks. Pulling you up past ochre seaweed and barnacles salt wind searing cheeks. You were so brave. Little legs leaping to keep up. You won’t remember but we took on the world that day, alone against brooding sky and sea. Now your legs are so much longer than mine. But somehow still you’ll always be my little brother hand in hand searching for sea otters
My little brother gets married this weekend. I’m so proud of him – all he has done and the person he has become. This one is for him.
Why should I fear leaving young womanhood behind when all around me stand older women glorious as trees that have held firm laughing through storms. Did I see how much of the sky you held up for me as I waltzed beneath your canopy? I see you now all around me like magnificent brass pots of life. Light reverberating off every dent, pouring through every crack. Bathing me in warmth. I know the path will be glorious. You have shown me the way.
This poem is for the many, many women older than me who inspire me on a daily basis. This is for all of you. Thank you for your example. Your grace. Your courage. Your love. And thank you for showing me how to boss this life thing.
Be free. We are here to look after those you love.
Last breath you are gone. A song to lift you on your way.
Open the window the sun has come out. Snatches of your life speak to me now.
Plaits round the head of a little Dutch girl. A quiet room with a ticking clock. One dress for a newly-wed doctors wife who doesn’t know how to make tea.
One lost child in a hospital tent. A drive through the night to an Irish beach. Windmills on the end of a teaspoon.
Drawers full of patchwork and home-spun wool. New roof on a Welsh cowshed. Girl at the window of an Amsterdam house looking down at an RAF doctor.
Long days in a children’s hospital. Grandchildren with gardens on trays. Embroidery on a child’s old dress.
There is a yellow daffodil in the bed where you lay. Be peace-filled now we will all be ok.
Know that Martin is with Neil. And tomorrow Neil and Annemarie will cross fields to feed the horses.
My Granny Els died earlier this year. She was an inspirational, complicated, beautiful and kind person. I have learnt so much from her and miss her dearly. Her life spoke and was full of stories. I wrote this poem aftersitting with her as she died and read it at her funeral.