The second of November is marked as All Souls Day by many churches, following on from All Saints Day the day before. As the nights close in, we remember those who have gone before us. We honour their memory, and remember that we are not alone, that there is a cloud of witnesses in those who have gone before. We treasure their wisdom and their memory.
I wrote this poem as I remembered a childhood visit to my great grandparents in South Wales. I remember the sensation of going back in time, of encountering an entirely different age, it seemed to me. I remembered their kindness, their gentle laughter, the way they switched between English and Welsh.
Recently I discovered something about my great grandfather that makes me immensely proud. During the General Strike of 1926, he was arrested and imprisoned for leading out 800 miners in support of their colleages who were suffering terrible hardship. He was a man of honour and principle, a man of deep faith.
There are many others who have gone before us, whose lives we may barely know. Today, we remember those we do know, we remember them in the love of God.
SUNDAY TEATIME – PEN-Y-GROES
I remember that room so clearly.
My last visit,
although I didn’t know, then.
The room was dark,
peaceful among voices.
Rich browns of paint and polish.
The black kettle over the fire.
The tick of a clock.
Two voices speaking in
two tongues of
times far back,
tunnel-dark under the earth.
The smell of coal.
The smell of baking,
The table spread.
A gold-brown velvet cloth
topped with creamy-white lace.
Best china – edged with
gold like an open Bible. Quiet.
While through the window were
row after row of cabbages and leeks
and tomatoes, waiting in the green sun.
The henhouse was empty.
They used to scratch and cluck
they said, and smiled.
So much, so much is left behind.
This poem was first published in Poems to help you through the Week