I wrote this after visiting the Sculpture Exhibition in the Botanical Gardens in Leicester. All thanks to Graham Norman and Caroline Cook from The Leicester Stanza of The Poetry Society. I was intrigued by this piece from the outset and I wanted to know the story… Of course I couldn’t find out, so I made up my own…
John W Mills PPRBS ARCA FRSA
Waiting for the hands of time.
Da? Do you remember that day? The hunt?
I try to penetrate the yawning space, the blunt stare,
unsure whether you are here, or can hear, aware,
or somewhere else, far, far, in a lost place.
We heard them in the distance, their wild howls
carried on the wind, across the fields and hills
along with their scent. Toby caught their scent
long before their cries even reached our ears.
Quick! Jump! you said. I reached, found your hand
as you hauled me up, crushed me in your giant
fist, limbs flailing round the column of your torso,
a miniature steeplejack desperate to gain purchase.
Once secure, arms clasped at your neck, heads
on a level, I could see for miles, the red-coated
army a maelstrom of colour and noise. Toby hid
between your legs, we held our breath, and we waited.
Excitement charged the air, but I wasn’t scared,
never, not with you; my Da, my north, my world.
They flew right by us like winged beasts, the froth
of their sweat, the screech and the yelp, the pant and the heat.
Once they’d passed you let me drop to my feet, but
wobbly, like an infant, shaky legs failing I fell and yet
again reached and found your hand, so safe, so warm.
In slow, companionable silence, we walked home.
I reach, find your hand; digits knobbed like turned spindles,
loose papery stuff where skin and callouses lay,
your bold form reduced to just a rumour, a myth, a wisp,
while the hands of time crush your bones in their cruel list.