THE REMEMBERED VILLAGE
After Mum and Dad's Golden was our first return.
We drove through steady rain uphill but missed
the turn, entered the village further west
by the school, followed the S-bend past
hall, vicarage, cross. Walked up the steepest
north-sloping churchyard path. It was mid-August.
In church, the numbers since Dad's time reduced.
After I reached fifty was the second.
Late at night, we drove uphill, northward, turned
in by the school, the village western end;
again the hall-and-vicarage S-bend.
The missed B&B; the phone call, turn round.
Next morning, in dampness, we were shown around
the church, the steep north-facing slope of ground.
We left the village at the eastern end,
Beacon Hill, water tower; homeward bound.
Dad's memorial service was the third.
In a bright March morning, we drove westward,
took the right turn; the water tower, crossroad,
again right, swooping north and down, past wood
gates, left, and left again into the farmyard.
The party walked the unpavemented road
west, south, uphill, the cross, the village grid,
the steep north-facing path in the churchyard.
The plaque unveiled, and many kind words said.
Then path, cross, downhill, left at chapel, led
west to where the Borstal had once stood.
We saw the new-built road named after Dad.
So my lines. They'd make an incomplete
map, lacking streets and homes once known inside.
Returning took from memories no heat,and the troubled return dreams have not died.
The poem was written in December 2013 for the Holland Park Press 'What's your place?' competition. It has now found publication in Orbis 180 (p. 6). It has benefited, as poems in Orbis tend to do, from suggestions by the editor Carole Baldock.