MS (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! Old Woman

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

User Rating: 2,7 / 5 ( 44 votes ) 11

Comments (11)

The old universal woman so imaginatively described. A fine tribute, thank you.
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.
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) :)
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.
Many of us see this old woman on newsreels every day.But sadly to few of us see the old woman you describe.
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