Inspired by tales of my dad's early childhood with his sister, on a Lincolnshire farm worked by their father and uncle. As a boy, my dad believed he would probably inherit the farm, but dreamed of broader horizons & someday living in the 'big house' instead!
You drove me insane,
Like twisted poles
on a carousel,
at a neighbouring county fair. And every time
I requested horizons
you were upright,
and standing there, in the road,
like a scarecrow,
with his arms
wavering in the breeze – you were ragged,
and always ready to leave, just as soon
as you had come.
And I remember the horses
in the fields were dun, and red
as apples in the setting suns
of nether-worlds we’d never see.
And we skipped across the golden barley
like flat stones
on surface water,
ever a contented son and daughter, of trees,
and of the cross-beams
that stretched along the barn.
And there was nothing like summer
for best butter and cakes in the pantry,
and a dozen heifer-calves
raised by an aunty in the crew-yard
out the back; an uncle who slept on potato sacks,
on the steps of the tractor shed;
and a tilly-lamp lighting
our way to bed to dream of more wonderful days,
when we’d look to the big,
house on the hill,
for the will to grow
up and be,
lord and lady of all we surveyed.
My father's sister, Vivienne Maxine Taylor, was killed in a farming accident, aged 9. This poem is dedicated to her memory.
Needless to say, the farm was sold. My father never did inherit...nor does he live in the 'big house'!