We thought the rose fields
were at their best in September
when the kids were back at school
when there could still a few fine days.
For some weeks
which seem like months to me now,
we set out on fair days
down the road of my youth
over the little hump-backed bridge
where the smallholder lived
who gave Dad a job,
towards the leafy corner
where a row of rushing poplars
ushered us to the nestling house
where spinsters once lived,
together with two scrawny cats.
Not far from there,
after that slight rise in the road
which you couldn’t call a hill,
that’s where it all opened up,
a sudden splash of colour
like some pink and red,
a talking point and an uplifting sight,
like one of my expressive canvases,
brushes dispensed for palette knife
or fingers, even a stick.
And we stayed
for as long as your hip could stand it,
for as long as I thought
I could stand the grief
on that slow walk back home.
But this was our highlight,
a little outing as the days drew in.
copyright Francis Barker 2019