Poems by Meg Seaton
After the war he lingered on
dashing and sallying through the air
on various employment.
She in her flinty cottage
dabbling and daubing welcomed
his ton-up forays from the flying field.
Then, he demobbed, she pregnant,
hugely amused they married,
called their friends and neighbours.
Artists and airmen, fishermen,
babies and wives spilled joy
in rowdy sound from disapproving walls
far from the inimical North Sea.
Their legend went before them into Hampstead.
They were the party people.
Through thirty years it grew.
Birth, marriage, death, any excuse or none.
No-need for baby-sitters, bring the kids,
we’ll all mix in and carry memories
beyond the hangovers of splendid warmth
laced with improbable good fellowship.
It fell apart.
Their children grew and scattered.
Restless he flew to Rio,
died in the bed of some too lithe senora.
She stayed in her own corner, let out rooms,
her pictures smudgy now, unsaleable,
ghost laughter on the stairs.
Her unsprayed cat teeming with kittens
gives raucous parties in the tangled garden.
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Cover illustration: Charles Dickens (1812-1870) with his daughters. Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London.