Childhood Recollection

Dusk in Northumberland


I cannot throw away this faulty photograph

wonder if mother peeled off that oval sticker,

the one I remember:

Boots pronouncement of defects

on red eyes, on the ghosts of double exposures,

Now half forgotten


Framed by the stone walls scaling hills

I didn’t know that my great grandfather built or

the skill that made them stand without cement


The photograph is me,

I know my tiny figure wrapped up,

in that pale pink and blue cloth kits jacket

With a stuffed monkey in the pocket

The little red kite, string taut,

Proof of the wind that day

Cloud is most of the photo

The tail of the kite trailing left

The brightest flash.


I am but a smudge,

A pale corona of hair,

A bundled figure caught in motion

I can only guess the time of year from the dark grass

of the field that I am running on.


You wouldn’t see me unless this matters

it matters to me that in this fading light

he wanted to capture this

knowing it would be

one of the last things he taught me


I barely remember that stony cottage

I remember the hills I climbed

the Roman wall walked

The bear brought to the top of the hill

Fur wind buffeted as my anorak

The hills, like a shaken sheet,

unreal to a girl only used to

the endless ruler horizon of Norfolk.


childhoodChildhood memories


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Anna Percy

Wed 27th Apr 2011 00:32

Hello I am so sorry I only found out this evening at a wol event in Sale that I had won! I must check write out loud more often, I am honoured! and also since I don't use outlook I couldn't access the email in order to email my address claim my prize...

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Anna Percy

Fri 28th Jan 2011 21:49

Thanks Cynthia I did want this to be a sound poem as well, and I wasn't sure if the interjections worked, a long time ago I was far more imagist and that is still my default style to some extent. Jules it was lovely to have someone who lives in that area and knows it better than me to be appreciative of this! Ray: if you had read the poem thoroughly you would note that it mentions two different coats, one with a monkey in the pocket and an anorak without, and kids today? the photo is around twenty years old.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Fri 28th Jan 2011 20:42

Anna, this is lovely. Apart from the capturing imagery and melody of diction, I like the interjection of thoughts into the visual as in 'stone walls scaling hills...great grandfather...the skill that made them stand without cement'. Impressions are always multi-dimensional, including overlapping memories.
It IS hard to know when one has met an expression elsewhere, if only once. Hopefully the author of the 'original' (if applicable) will be honoured. It's the obvious 'borrowing' that needles me, even here on WOL.

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Ray Miller

Thu 27th Jan 2011 20:52

But who needs a bear when they've a stuffed monkey in their pocket? Tut. Kids these days, they want it all.

<Deleted User> (8730)

Thu 27th Jan 2011 10:18

I like the pale corona of hair. I have cycled the wall from one side to the other. I live in Durham, and found this poem very moving.

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Anna Percy

Thu 27th Jan 2011 00:42

Thank you for your comments. Ray, this poem is tuned for sound, i.e sound patterns, hence the syntax,and omission of ''teddy'' etc I think it is also rather obvious that a small girl wouldn't be carrying a real live bear. I was unsure if shaken sheet was a cliche or something I lifted from somewhere accidentally, we shall see.

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Elaine Booth

Wed 26th Jan 2011 20:42

This was a joy to read. Very evocative and wonderful to think that you got this lovely poem from memories brought back to you by a faulty old photo.


Wed 26th Jan 2011 20:14

You bring this picture to us beautifully with all the nostalgia that only old photos can - well done

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Ann Foxglove

Wed 26th Jan 2011 19:21

I liked this a lot too!

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Ray Miller

Wed 26th Jan 2011 19:15

Enjoyed this a lot, captures a sense of place very well.
Cloud is most of the photo - seems an odd construction. Most of the photo is cloud?
I wondered about the bear brought to the top of the hill. A toy bear?
wind buffeted should maybe have a hyphen.
The hills, like a shaken sheet,

There's lots of nice lines, that was my favourite.

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