I was Alice’s Aunty Once

When I was a teen, I worked in a home for the elderly. One of the old ladies had dementia…

Fourteen years old
And radiating a future
Of fruitful tomorrows
In this graveyard for
The not yet dead
With the old bones
Rattling around in this
Old people’s home
One ear on the
Monotonous drone
Of dead eyed visitors
And one eye on
The steady tock
Of the analogue clock
As death permits
A last cup of tea

They had memories – Once
But these were stolen
And minds were broken
Words come tumbling
Out like retrospective
Dramas spoken
Wartime lovers
Dancing with hope
This hopeless dance
With feet that may not
March next week
As they savour
The last of their rations

I was Alice’s aunty once
As I led her to her
Favourite chair
Skin so parchment thin
Her story was written
In the spiderlike veins
And downy hair
Eyes trusting as a child
That thinks it’s going
To Paris
But is cruelly going
Nowhere decent
Nowhere they could feast
On warm croissants

I wondered
Was this aunt
Loved
And hoped that
I could share a bit
Of my naïve heart
I prayed I could lovingly play
A nurturing movie star
In her world of
Broken dolls and
Tattered teddy bears
Where she was now
The child
And I, the child
Was now
Very grown up
Indeed.

© 2020 Sarah Drury

Iceland

I wrote this poem as a spoken word piece, in response to this coronavirus pandemic, through the eyes of an elderly person who has lived through world war two.

Five hundred quid
Worked all my life for five hundred quid
Ooo, these Tena ladies are on offer
Worked my hands to the bone and my back to the knackers yard, I did
Funny times we live in, funny times
Corona-whatsit rampant, country in lockdown
Just like the war
Our big grown prime minister falling to the floor
Sick people in and out the revolving doors
Crying and dying on hospital floors
People telling me to stay indoors
Only so much of Piers Morgan I can take
And I’m bleeding sick of doing chores
Ooo look, choccy digestives, two for one fifty
Just like the war
But not living on a lump of cheese, a tin of spam and a packet of dried egg
Bring back rationing, it should be the law
All these feckin crazy people
Strippin shelves bare
Hoarding the toilet roll like they don’t care
About how others fare
Oh, I’ll have some of those
Rice pudding, fifty pence a tin
Its strange times, its mad times we’re in
Can’t even go down the bingo
Can’t remember the last time I had a win
Hair like a Brillo pad, legs like scourers
Can’t remember the last time I plucked the hairs on my chin
It does this to you
All this social isolation
Wrapping clingfilm around a rebellious nation
And the government have this mental expectation
That we will be sheep
Clothed in the wool of allegation
Don’t go out
Wash your hands
Keep two metres between you
Do as we say, or we’ll impose a curfew
It’s just like the war
Except you don’t have to don your guns
And kill a visible enemy
We’re fighting something global we can’t even see
All we have to do is stay inside and watch the death tolls on TV
And I pray every day that one of those intensive care beds won’t be me.
Ooo loo roll
I’ll need that
Back in the war I’d wipe my bum with newspaper
The stories of the day plastered over my derriere
My neighbour popping by to see if I had some spare
And the air raid sirens would scream
And we’d be woken from our dreams
Of victory
Playing hide and seek with the bombs that rained down
Dot to dot on the roofs of the houses of our little town
Taking refuge in the shelters
Taking refuge in the neighbours
Taking refuge in the strangers
And though we were fighting for freedom
We were still free
Oh, tinned fruit cocktail
Will do for my trifle
Put it in my cupboard full
Of empty shelves
In my kitchen of a lonely life.
Better go home now
Better go home.

©2020 Sarah Drury

Medal of Honour

My grandfather, who was 92 when he died, 9 years ago, was a very brave man. One day, he was walking through the centre of Hull when he saw a gang of lads attacking a guy with learning disabilities. With no hesitation, he waded in, pinned the ringleader to the ground, the other lads ran off, and he got another member of the public to ring the police. He managed to hold the bully down until the police arrived.
For this he received a bravery award from Humberside police. I was SOOOO proud of him! Here’s a poem dedicated to him…

Medal of honour

All we have is a fading photograph
Proud old man
In tan leather shoes
Polished into mirrors
Of army reflections
Standing on principles
Of selfless bravery
Heels as sturdy roots
Sucking up the echoes
Of classless courage
From an Earth
Sodden with the blood
Of cowardice
of cruelty
of discrimination.

All we have is a photograph
Proud old man
In weathered wool coat
Threads laid bare by age
Your seventy-five years
Hold you not to turn a blind eye
To turn the other cheek
Once an army boxer
Punches never left you
But attack in defence
Working class fists
Infused with the legacy
Of world war hardship

Fist to floor
Floor the enemy
Enemy a prisoner
Prisoner of war
War crime
Crime for a cheap dime
Don’t mess with him
Non nonsense banker
Pennies for punches
Pounds for penitence.

All we have is a photograph
Proud old man
In memories now you’re gone
Proud to call you grandad
Proud

©2020 Sarah Drury