Two poems for my father, Harold Taylor
Easy does it
He worked with the soil
and with water
as well as wind and fire,
as an ordinary Lincolnshire farmer does,
the lift and the literal grind
of milling the grain
of head of stock.
It was a calling as natural
as his calling the cattle and sheep.
I was happy to walk
in the tread of his steps,
to gentle the beasts out of my way
when I fed them
at their mangers.
So, our life together was spent.
I remember him
walking the tilth with a hopper
strapped to him,
sewing out grass seeds
like an infinity sign on the air,
with the sweep and swoosh,
same rhythm as a man from way back.
Hand milking, morning and evening,
his voice rising
from the cowshed;
his baritone voice, just singing
in the comfort and shelter of cows.
The live warm milk eased out
for our table
and doting tortoiseshell cats.
And the lily shed;
as a farm hand
stood with murring calves,
while he poured their essential share
a smooth stream
out of the churn.
Note from the poet: My calf rearing shed was called the lily shed because, when we took on the farm at a bitterly cold Lincolnshire Easter-time, we stored my mother’s Madonna lilies in there, before the weather was suitable to transplant them into the new garden.
Snow on the Dark Peak
He hardly ever wore gloves,
but I’ve raised a memory trace
of the time I held his hand
on a walk in thick snowfall.
He was wearing driving gloves,
the kind with string backs.
My connection to him,
awkward; the feel of pallid kid,
instead of the usual warmth
of his weathered brown palm.
So my first memory of his hands
is that climb on Kinder Scout
and my last memory of them
is seeing cold fingers threaded
each upon each, like lily buds
breaking over the end of his life.
Picture me on a beach with our children –
your children in newly liberated skins,
ready to play with you. Darling,
while you were away
we have run wild.
We have learnt to sculpt you out of sand.
Hold still – we are working on a way
to breathe the bones into you.
Easy Does It and Snow on the Dark Peak are both from Susan Taylor’s collection, A Small Wave for Your Form, published by Oversteps Books. Sandman was published in The Complete Bearded Stranger, Susan’s collection from Taxvs Press.
Susan Taylor began writing in her teens in the idyllic setting of her family farm in the Lincolnshire Wolds – Tennyson country. An ex-shepherd, she admits to having become something of a ‘turncoat’ now, with much sympathy for the plight of the wild wolf. She has eight published poetry collections, including ‘Temporal Bones’, published by Oversteps Books in 2106. Susan is a keen performer of her poetry and has developed and toured many collaborative poetry shows, including ‘La Loba – Enchanting the Wolf’ and ‘The Weather House’, which appeared as an Indigo Dreams Poetry Pamphlet in 2017.