Far From the Tree

“Landed”, it says.
Landed safely. Always a relief.

Waiting with welling anticipation, we left an impossibly tidy house.
A proper welcome. Pirate towels, toys, a full fridge,
Soon to be wreckage.

Doors swish and swish and swish again
As we strain to read tags on bags
Trundled by weary travellers.

It’s their flight! At last, at long last.
The doors give a final sigh
And release our grandchildren.
Subdued. Then smiling. Then running, laughing.
Then grimacing and squirming,
Clamped in hugs.
And behind them their parents. Our children.
Laden, responsible. Grown.
Grateful to let go for a while.

Then it’s into the whirlwind week.
Laughter, fun, food, and the inevitable fight,
Releasing the tensions of rose-tinted expectation.
Kids on shoulders. Snuggling in for a bedtime story.
Plasters on knees. Tears dried.
And the exhaustion. Oh, the exhaustion!

Memories of what we were about
For all those years.
What we were for.

And suddenly it’s over, far too soon.
Back to the airport, no longer welcoming.
Hasty, clumsy embraces. Mumbled farewells. Muffled promises.
Brimming eyes avoided, we turn and walk away
A little too quickly.
No more words. One last wave,
Far enough away to put on the brave face.

And they are gone.

We tell ourselves that our children are happy, that they have a good life.
That our grandchildren, far away, do know us and love us.
That time will fly until we see them again.
That’s what we tell ourselves

But our hearts

Still break.



No Malice of Fourth Thought

Our super-fit Olympic winners
Inspired we lump-like sofa-sinners,
With Jess and Mo and Chris and Laura,
And Vicki – how we all adore her.
The country celebrated headily,
Crunching crisps and supping steadily.
We’d many medals from the North,
But who remembers who came fourth?

Fourth is the cruelest cut of all.
They trained and strained and hit the wall.
It seems somehow to be so wrong
They came away without a gong.
It’s patently just so absurd….
No medal if you come sub-third?

So “nearly there”, so “not quite made it”,
So “just fell short”, so, “no parade” it…
Seems so harsh, so mean, so tough,
So “sorry, not quite good enough”.

So “no cigar” so “no champagne”,
So “go to Rio, try again”.
So “very near and yet so far”,
So “sorry, don’t know who you are”.

We need to put it in perspective.
These athletes, far from ineffective,
When their banners were unfurled
Became the fourth best in the World.

Fourth in the World! I’m telling you,
That’s more than most of us could do.
These are no slouches, no slow-pacers,
Let’s hear it for the world’s Fourth Placers.

So come on then, Olympic fans,
Let’s raise the roof for also-rans.
The world needs more heroic triers,
The gritty type that still aspires
To greatness though they’ve had a knock.
Focused, steady as a rock.
Though they didn’t come first or third or second,
They’re clearly a Fourth with which to be reckoned.