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The first was born at midnight in July
Of 1946, and there was peace.
She lay beside a window in the ward
And saw the dawn, and heard a blackbird sing.
The light grew stronger and the stillness held.
Her future beckoned; she would shape her world.

For those who will insist too stridently
Time’s languid humour keeps its own redress.
She loved her children, and they came to know
Her stringent sets of measures of success
Which, over fifty years, all failed to match.
They made their way in life by minor roads.
Most married wrongly, and she had to watch.
The Gospel she had taught them — which for her
Contained the full sufficiency of truth
For here and for hereafter — most denied.

A blackbird sings at daybreak this July.
In bed at home, she still invests with hope
The sweet, the automatic line of notes
Speaking to her in age as plausibly
As when the song said: ‘Time is on your side.’

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author