David Lewis Paget
Family Ties - Poem by David Lewis Paget
My life was pretty well empty,
I hadn’t a friend to call,
Trying to make a friend was like
Hitting your head on a wall,
Most other people bored me,
Others had nothing to say,
I didn’t know how much longer I
Could go on living this way.
My folks had died in the autumn,
In a wreck on Highway One,
I suddenly felt like an orphan
When nobody wanted one,
My brother had gone to the tropics
My sister had gone to the west,
So there I was on my lonesome,
Just me and an old tea chest.
I looked at the chest in the corner,
It hadn’t been opened yet,
I didn’t know if I was ready for
The surprises I might get.
My sister had packed and sealed it,
She said she felt like a thief,
‘Don’t even think of opening it
Until you’re over your grief! ’
It was full of our family papers,
Documents, photo’s and rings,
All the stuff that our folks had left,
Some of their favourite things,
She knew that I’d cry when I opened it,
And went through the things she’d packed,
Our family had been torn apart,
There was now no putting it back.
It was late on a Saturday morning,
And I had nothing to do,
I prised the lid off the old tea chest,
And took a deep breath or two,
I shut my eyes and I dived right in
Tipped all the stuff on the floor,
A thousand pics of a thousand things
That the family did before.
I must admit that I almost cried
When I saw my mother’s face,
Just as she’d looked when I was young
In a bonnet of Irish lace,
My father was holding me close to him
In his army uniform,
He didn’t know it would end like this
In a crash, and a firestorm.
All the sepia tints were there
And the studio photographs,
Each one holding a simple pose
To wait for the camera flash.
There were faces there unknown to me
From the family, way back when,
Victoria sat on the English throne
And our ‘Grands’ were living then.
There was one old tattered photograph
Of our Great Grandfather Jim,
Sucking away on a gnarled old pipe
And our great Grandma, Eileen.
Then I heard a noise and I looked around
To the corner, in the gloom,
Where an old man sat in a trilby hat
Smiling across the room.
‘Don’t be alarmed, I mean no harm, ’
He said, as I went to rise,
There was something vaguely familiar
About the grey in his eyes,
‘I see you’re checking the photographs
And I thought I’d just drop in,
I keep an eye on the family ties
And you, so how have you been? ’
I looked again at the photograph,
At the man in the trilby hat,
‘I don’t know whether I’m going mad,
Are you Great Grandad, or what? ’
‘I am, I am, you got it in one,
I’m part of your family tree,
Your folks just asked if I’d pop right in,
They’re out there now, with me.’
‘They worry about you doing well
You’re too much on your own,
I came to give you a tip or two
To brighten your life at home.
I met Eileen in a butcher’s shop
There’s one just down at Cleve,
She watches you when you walk on by
And wears her heart on her sleeve.’
I knew the shop, I knew the girl,
I wanted to ask him more,
But where he’d sat in the corner there
Was a piece of empty floor.
I went for a walk, to buy some meat
And she smiled in a sweet surprise,
When I said, ‘Don’t think that I’m forward, now,
But my, you’ve got lovely eyes! ’
10 October 2013
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