Wednesday, 3 October 2018

To Tommy Thompson

by Oonah V Joslin

“They’ll be ready soon, Missus.”

“Aye, they will.”

Skin black with dust,
shouldering half a hundredweight with ease,
all cloth cap and dirty finger nails,
the coal man lumbered along our path
to the back shed. Heaving the bag
down he disgorged its comforting contents,
tossed the jute bag,
lightly over his shoulder.

“You’ll take a cup-o-tea.”

Stepping carefully
on newspapers not to spread his dirt
he’d wash his hands,
then hoist me onto his shoulder
with a pretend grunt.

As broad as he was long,
and honest as daylight,
Tommy took the coal money
if we had it but if not
we’d still be warm another week.

Yearly on cue from our garden he carried
a purple burden of Michaelmas Daisies
in both arms
laid it baby-gentle in the driver’s cab.

I imagine him
arranging the harvest stems;
kneeling in his pew,
giving thanks

as I do too
for the memory 
of this strong and gentle man.

* * * * *

Oonah V Joslin is poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings. She has won prizes for both poetry and micro-fiction. Her book Three Pounds of Cells ISBN: 13: 978-1535486491 is available online from Linnet’s Wings Press and you can see and hear Oonah read in this National Trust video. The first part of her novella A Genie in a Jam is serialised at Bewildering Stories, along with a large body of her work (see Bibliography). You can follow Oonah on Facebook or at Parallel Oonahverse

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