Jo Bell


The couple with the shop at Yew Tree Farm
who travel France to buy the old tools
used by gleaners on the skyline of a painting,
or the milking stool smoothed by a farmer’s arse.

The lady who makes cakes, including one which is
a faithful reproduction of the Pontcysyllte aqueduct;
the man who mends old boats in winter smoke,
all paint-licked dungaree and fuse-wire hair.

The electrician with his knowledge of
the gynaecology of lighting, and the man
who drives from Grimsby to the south each week
selling fish in cul-de-sacs, a salty evangelist.

The woman with the pencil stuck behind her ear
who draws the dead to life, repopulating hill forts;
the man who builds the databases
shunting lives between the rows and columns.

My mother at Dave Goucher’s sixtieth
dressed up as Marilyn Monroe
and gorgeous in her satin laughter
mocking anyone who mocks.

The little man in cufflinks and a handlebar moustache,
feeling his partner’s bottom as they dance;
the old ones holding hands with wives in party dresses
blossoming with long luck, grateful to go home.

To these and others, glory be.
And glory be to farmers and the hillfort folk
and Marilyn Monroe and at this moment
to the man who thinks himself unseen;

feeding swans from the back deck of a boat called Hope,
wearing a suit in the twilight.

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