Miss Smith

in every story book I read
the wise old witch was her
with cheeks like polished apples red
and apron freshly pressed

she smelled of wholesome new baked bread
pickles, jams and herbs
she kept a feathered fleet of hens
beside the well-worn lane

her hat pulled firmly on her head
she wandered down there day and night
in her fathers tattered coat
and big black rubber boots

the neighbours thought her rather odd
but I knew she was kind and good
she gave me Homers Odyssey
and well-worn fairy tales

when I was grown I went back there
to knock upon her door again, no-one came,
no neighbours knew her by her name
the world was not the same

no scent of lavender survives
in ancient drawers of cedar lined
the stove is cold, the windows barred
by swathes of ivy, deep entwined

the hens have gone, no cockerels crow
the hinge hangs rusted on her gate
that leads out to the muddied road
deep rutted by forgotten wheels

the rooks have flown the distant trees
no magpies squawks in mockery
the nettles grow in clusters wild
defense against a vanished child


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