Francis Charters: 38, Malvern Hills UK

I wrote "The Old Man" after my uncle was buried in a crowded grave yard and my grandfather lay dying in a sterile hospital. It is more a love poem to my wife, who had our children by cesarean section than a depressive ode. "Worcester cathedral" was written in the eighties. It is about a hopeful future and a God who watches our stumblings whilst wishing for our true happiness.

The Old Man

My slippered feet moved softly 'cross the shiny lino floor.
The patients just ignored me, they'd seen my type before,
And the nurses knew I wandered, they had other men to see,
So I wandered out of ward nineteen towards the mortuary.

The corridor looked wide, too wide for crooked legs to cross.
A yard seemed like eternity, weighed down with all my loss.
The doctor said that you were dead, but that I'd always known,
I dreamed of you, of loving you, but I walked my way alone.

I'd known that boring corridor since large with child you lay.
For six long weeks I visited your bedside every day.
Then one day they came to say your belly must be torn,
You lay alone, I sat on my own, and my little girl was born.

But love strode ahead, and the same nurse said That Caesar must have his way.
In sterile whites, under the lights, on your back in pain you lay.
I sat at your head in the hospital bed, as they cut you through and through,
And delivered my son, and the only ones that mattered were kids and you.

Then I saw the mortuary door, I walked straight up and through,
No-one was there, the room looked bear and empty, till I saw you.
You lay asleep, 'neath starched white sheet, I watched like guilty thief.
I stood alone, when, with a will of its own, burst up a boiling grief.

With wild embrace, I kissed your face, so clean and clammy and cold,
An eternal youth sprang from the truth of my love in a body so old.
I lifted your corpse, like a groom at the door, I carried you out of that place.
I carried you where my heart could tear at the stillness and cold in your face.

High on the hills, on the Malvern hills, there stands a lonely tree.
Just to one side lies a man and his bride, that's you my love and me.
In the high winds of peace I found a release, and I breathed my final breath.
In the countryside where I met my bride, we lay together in death.

Copyright 1999 by Francis Charters

On an evening walk round Worcester Cathedral

Watch me, slowly, as the sun goes by
And the complacent, feline air strokes my face.
Watch my will and action disincline
Cause bloody anguish for the world within.
Your face is open, joyful with the sun,
A smile spreads wide throughout your frail form,
Gone are the lines of fear, the apple bough
Leans with it's fruit, but freshly from the flower.

We will walk like dreamers, call the sky,
Feel the stone and watch cathedral rise.
"These arches are for structure" "This pipe is made of lead"
And this corner frightens your very soul.
Sitting on the steps, those footsteps to the cross,
Do you remember how I tripped and fell?
We watched the feelings and the shadows floating by
And knew the essence of the spirit.

So, watch me slowly, as the sun goes by,
Towards the west, whence we can see no more.
Watch me spirit, I met you in the night,
As you danced, silken, on cathedral wall.
Help me know my will and always act
According to that rigid dream of mine.
Let me hope, once shattered, hope again.
And let me love, and maybe
Being love, know joy.

Copyright 1999 by Francis Charters