Alexander Averin

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.

Cait O’Connor


Pondside said...

Ooooh I'd like too know the rest of the story!

Vee said...

How interesting! You've written the poem as if sharing the answer to a mystery. I'm left wanting to know more as well. Did you really find an ancestor's will or are you taking poetic license?

CAMILLA said...

Cait, soo interesting to read.! yes, would definately love to know if there is more to that story.


Fran said...

I liked that. Very evocative of a life.

Fennie said...

Yes, yes - dig it all out and you never know what you might find - a pot of gold on that hillside crag (safe from the creditors) or £5,000 stashed in the funds unclaimed and waiting for a claimant. (And now worth £5 million!)

Friko said...

You have made a journey into the past which has given you a conundrum. Who was this ancestor, what kind of man was he?
Now you simply will have to dig deeper.

Marian said...

Haunting and thought provoking. Your poetry is great. I look forward to reading more.

Dave King said...

Yes, I go with the majority, I think: more please, this is good.

Mark said...

Enough said by others. I liked the repetition of the first line to the last - it can be a bit gimmicky, but in this case it works especially well.