Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! Old Woman - Poem by Michael Shepherd

We see you every day
on the newsreels
a face like the worn map of tragedy
lined with a life of service
that should have ended in an honoured peace
among those you bore and love
your hands reaching out
to the TV camera
begging for water, food
or beseeching
in some unrecognisable, ineffective
local language, or
cursing an enemy not visible
who made a ruin of your home
or being carried unceremoniously
between urgent hands in some material
from a bed that is no longer there
or sitting bemused by life
awaiting some unnamed help beyond request
though never accompanied by your son
who has found a greater cause
than home, or age, and somewhere else…

or, in the occasional poem -
tended, your paper skin and jutting hipbones
not unlike some starved chicken’s carcase
described with painful love
as if you only lived a living life
in the past tense,
beyond the verses, between the metaphors

and yet, if we could only find words
to describe what's still living,
where pride hides, a pride
too precious now in grief to speak,
how you love those who are not here..

and yet, you’re there, alive or dead
patient, proud, silent, and unnamed,
in every poem
that has ever been written

and I salute you

Comments about ! Old Woman by Michael Shepherd

  • (6/30/2018 8:22:00 AM)

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  • (6/30/2018 8:21:00 AM)

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  • Fay Slimm (8/27/2008 11:12:00 AM)

    The old universal woman so imaginatively described. A fine tribute, thank you. (Report) Reply

  • C. P. Sharma (6/8/2008 6:19:00 AM)

    Mr. Shepherd, you have writen an excellent poem that is remniscent of the eventful life of an person who is at the end is left to his fate. A wonderful poetic newsreel. (Report) Reply

  • (8/19/2006 10:15:00 AM)

    Mr Shepherd, this is an amazing poem. You write so eloquently about the persistant images on the news of victims of tragedies. This poem has amazingly powerful imagery. I watch the news every night but I think people who don't would be moved to read what you have written. If I wasn't so odd, I think I'd be lost for words! This is amazing, I mean it. Keep up the good work (which doesn't actually cover the power of your poem) :) (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2006 10:21:00 AM)

    You write of the sorrowful effects of hate, war, poverty as they have existed forever; will the cycle never end? Your poem enlightens those who never think beyond their own back yard and spurs everyone else to do something, if only to protest, what is happening to their fellow human beings still, today. (Report) Reply

  • (8/4/2006 8:01:00 AM)

    Many of us see this old woman on newsreels every day.But sadly to few of us see the old woman you describe. (Report) Reply

  • (8/4/2006 2:08:00 AM)

    Michael, I read this first last night. It has been haunting me ever since. Such is power of your pen. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • (8/1/2006 2:39:00 PM)

    Michael, how do you keep so sharp and cutting? Grandly eloquent as ever. (Report) Reply

  • Frank James Ryan Jr...fjr (8/1/2006 1:44:00 PM)

    As I Salute you, Mr. Shepherd, for a most apocryphal concept and penning...
    In every Poem that you Sir, have ever written...
    (Report) Reply

  • (8/1/2006 12:07:00 PM)

    And would there be a way for that old woman (or all the others) to know the love and tenderness with which you view them. This piece is alive and real...and speaks to those of us who still have some control in our lives as well as those who don't. Lovely.

    (Report) Reply

  • (8/1/2006 11:53:00 AM)

    Something very different... I really appreciate this piece of writing... Wonderfully written. (Report) Reply

  • (8/1/2006 11:49:00 AM)

    No fitting words can be said about this piece. That is the effect of a piece that hits hard. That's a compliment, by the way. (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Poem Edited: Friday, August 20, 2010

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