WINTER HILL

I wake up in the morning, bright and content
I go through my routines like a child soldier
No worries, no regrets, no leftover anger
Then I touch water, warm flowing water

My whole body tingles with a sensual sorrow
The encampment of the day opens, a light turned on
I feel the days gone by like a heavy anvil inside of me
Stalking me down into the forgotten past

As if I no longer existed and had no heart
When my childhood ended and my adulthood died
And my adventure in love was cut down like a tree
And buried in the fire of a family hatred

I got off the bus in Marlow
Where my mother grew up as a girl
I went to the information office to ask for directions
Someone gave me a map and a train timetable

Then, it was a twenty-minute walk to my aunts
Embarrassed by tears streaming down my face
Trying to hide my face away from strangers
As the irony of this first visit since childhood pierced me

I couldn’t remember which cul-de-sac it was
Where as a boy I’d play the fool with my Aunt
I walked back and forth for another twenty minutes
Trying to understand the system of door numbers

Finally I knocked on a strangely familiar door
My aunt let me in feeling uneasy the same as me
My cousin finished his bath and then drove me through Marlow
Visiting Gypsy Lane where my mother lived a long time ago

We went past the church where my uncle is buried
And then up a winding wooded road to Winter Hill

I remember my Moms instructions at her funeral
For her ashes to be taken back home to Marlow
For her ashes to be scattered in Bluebell Wood
Ashes that I never saw, a death I never witnessed

So I looked down the steep slope of Winter Hill
As my cousin pointed out the spot
Where my father and brother scattered her ashes
Scattered her ashes on Winter Hill

Not in the security of woodland where in spring
Bluebells cover the ground with life
But from the Winter Hill where the wind will blow
And loosen her ashes from the steep slope

Loosen her heart from the town she grew up in and loved
With hardly a hope that her remains will still be there in a years time

And my auntie complained about the situation
And said she’ll never go again to Winter Hill
But I will and I’ll stare across the valley
And call the wind to return my mothers ashes
To return them back and leave them
To return them back to Bluebell Wood
Where as a girl she played a long time ago
So I can sit amongst the bluebells and grieve at last

1998

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