David Lewis Paget
The Love That Binds - Poem by David Lewis Paget
My father died of the cholera
In eighteen thirty-two,
There wasn't a place at the cemetery
To bury him, that we knew,
The signs were posted at Netherton,
‘Don't bring your bodies here! '
The Sexton spoke: ‘Try Gospel Oak,
Or maybe, Wednesbury.'
We loaded Pa back onto the cart
And whipped the old grey mare,
We'd not long buried our cousin Jack
At the turning of the year,
From Manchester to Birmingham
The epidemic spread,
From Liverpool to Leeds, to York,
With one in twenty dead!
I walked along with the horse and cart
And I passed so many more,
They thrust their relatives out, feet first
In front of the tradesman's door,
The fear had spread so rapidly
No family was safe,
So Grandma went in her winding sheet
Outside, with her Sister Kate!
They loaded bodies onto a cart
No dignity in death,
And piled them three and four feet high
As they took their final breath,
And pits were dug as the space grew less
The Churchyards all were full,
For years, the gardeners turned them up
Old bones, and a grinning skull!
We took our Pa on home at last
With nowhere else to go,
And sat him out in the potting shed
Where the seedlings used to grow,
Then Ma sat down beside him there
And died of a broken heart,
We knew it would be a waste of time
To break out the horse and cart.
For years they sat untouched out there
Through spring and the summertime,
I looked one day, they were overgrown
With a creeper, like a vine,
The vine had woven in and around
Through bones that were falling apart,
It tied and bound them together,
Wrapping a tendril round each heart.
‘When things calm down, we'll bury them, '
I said to my brother, Sid,
As time went on, we both forgot
And I guess we never did;
They're closer now than they were in life
She doesn't scold or moan,
While he clings fast to his silent wife,
And at least, they're both at home!
30 August 2012
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