Three songs for Sally Mays

by John Elsom

 

The Apple of My Eye

We kept it cool, we kept it dry,
We did not want our friends to pry,
For I was only seventeen,
And she – the apple of my eye.

We made no plans, and if we met,
We’d touch, and gently touch, not grope,
For she came from another world
And I was filled with love and hope.

Through shafts of light, to muffled drums,
We swore to leave it all to chance.
“Let’s face the future as it comes!”
And so began our lifelong dance.

We had no doubt, we had no fear,
We did not play it by the rule,
For she was on her Grand Career,
And I stood guard, though still at school.

Living alone in a house,
Waiting for no-one to come,
Where are they now?
Kisses that fastened my heart and stopped my mouth
Dumb.


Home delivery 1964

We paced the floor, my son and I.
The mid-wife came and crossed the hall
And shut the door. “What’s wrong with Mum?”
“Nothing,” I said, “Nothing at all.”

Great clouds of smog rolled up the Thames,
A thick and grey primordial soup.
We drew the blinds against the dark,
Nothing to let our spirits droop.

“Can I go in?” “Not yet, not yet,
Let’s stick around and say our prayers.
There’s nothing much we men can do,
Let’s leave the girls to their affairs”.

The house was softly drenched in mist.
The silence even soaked the earth.
Awestruck we stood, restless to hear
The first uncertainties of birth.


Silence is a deep hole

The skills of eighty years
Have left her hands.
The words that spoke her mind
Escape her lips.
The house that sang of love
Has lost its voice.

Silence, my dear friends, is a deep hole.