Sunday, 6 January 2008

Michael Newman's snapshot of family life

2008 - and the Earth spins daily in its orbit, spins yearly around the Sun, itself a spinning star spinning along the edge of the Milky Way; and only on its third spin is this great spinning disc known as the Milky Way; and now after all the rockets and all the cork popping of last long-spun-out weekend we find ourselves yet again examining our fingertips for old earwax and wondering why?.
And so, back down to Earth then. And where better to begin 2008 than with something reminiscent of Wales's famous doubting Thomas. The story goes that R S Thomas, the priestly poet of the Lleyn Peninsula, once asked what an almost empty bus was doing attempting to negotiate the narrow bridge in the centre of the village of Aberdaron, a tricky proposition even for a normal car. A brave pedestrian passing by compared the bus's predicament to that of Thomas's church and thereby risked the wrath of Thomas and of heaven.
Michael Newman is a writer long-admired by P-i-R and it is with great pleasure and with his kind permission that the following poem which featured in the 100th edition of 'Weyfarers' (the Guildford Poets Press) in June 2006 is now published here.

The Photograph

First in the frame,
Edwin Grimmett,
Farmworker - itinerant at that,
Keeping his head above debt
Like a bobbing buoy,
Arms the colour of red marl.

Next we have Mathew Grimmett,
The eldest son and first-born,
Cutting corners as a lorry driver,
Fudging, fiddling,
Anything to augment meagre overtime.

Then we have Andrew Grimmett,
The one who did follow his father,
And now lives on a tractor.
Permanent position on a big estate,
Pension, too.

Silas Grimmett, what of him?
He's kept quiet
By doing errands in the village.
Each list is like a cypher
Which the shopkeeper decodes.
Ga-ga vowels replace thanks,
But mean the same.

Which leaves Sarah Grimmett,
Mother, wife, mid-wife,
Charlady, cleaner, gardener,
Church goer.

Four men under one poor roof,
And they look to her
Without seeming sentiment.
And yet her face becomes
The stained-glass by which
The say their fumbled prayers.

c)- Michael Newman

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