Friday, 18 February 2011
On Finding An Ancestor's Will
On Finding An Ancestor’s Will
In Cumberland, upon a hillside’s crag,
sweet Archibald, I found you.
But were you really not so sweet,
were you rather sour and tight?
You lived and worked by border folk
and married one, Christiana.
Two hundred years have passed,
each archive speaks, yet hides from us its story.
You made and dealt in earthenware,
you dreamed in clay, your land was stone and slate.
A gifted artist, palms worked their alchemy
to make the finest china in the land.
You left great wealth but all was spoken for
by creditors, well more than one in truth.
When you were safely cold, buried deep
and moulded in St Andrew’s clay
the first in line was Samuel Binns, the local man of coal.
Another dealer, patient, open-palmed,
he’d quietly watched you die.
Six hundred pounds lay wait for him.
his conscience clear and firm, un-pricked,
the money owed to him had kept you whole,
had warmed your body and its heart
and hopefully your artist soul,
through all your long, cold, dying days
in Cumberland, upon a hillside’s crag.