These poems are written from the perspective of my three protagonists, Emmott Syddall, Catherine Mompesson and Elizabeth Hancock and were composed to mark the first publishing anniversary of Three: A Tale of Brave Women and the Eyam Plague by Jennifer Jenkins. They are composed as sonnets, haikus and free verse poems.
Here I wait amongst the flowers and trees
For the missing part of my heart to come
Its beat thumps along to the buzz of bees
My legs resist breaking into a run
I see him arrive before he sees me
So soon to be joined, just like my linnets
We await the parson’s solemn decree
And wish these years, these months, could be minutes
Here he is now, healthy, rugged and strong
I see him cast his eyes to look over me
No shadow of illness, no harm, no wrong
Befalls my fragile frame, he’s glad to see
We face each other across a green breach
A distance to keep, o’er which hearts reach.
Emmott Meets Rowland in Cucklett Delph
Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre continued their love affair across the distance at Cucklett Delph
Alas, he is gone
He who taught all, showed me how
To love on with nought.
Emmott mourns her father
The light finds me like a blanket
That which holds me together unravels
Like stitches pulled asunder
And this luminous shroud holds me together now
I see him through its warp and weft
As if peering through a tapestry of dreams
My fingers reach to touch
But he is nothing, as I am nothing
Only light, only air
Where now has my pain gone?
The gathering light has soothed it
And that which I was so loathe to leave
I now depart
Carried out on air, as light on love.
Their singing fills the chilly winter air
These souls so resisting this pain, this loss
While shepherds watched, a king delivered there
Through time, across lands, is given to us
The arrival of that helpless infant
A reminder now of our fragile state
This terrible villain, we bear the brunt
Await our rescue, yet accept our fate
But this night feels like it’s one for whispers
When hope might banish fear for just one eve
Though our future may yet be sinister
We sing as one, the healthy and bereaved
Oh tiny infant king hear our pleading
Show your ruined flock where this is leading.
Catherine on Christmas Eve
The welcome scent that fills my nostrils
That pungent promise of relief
The feathered fronds between my fingers
The tangible that beckons unfathomable release
The colours stripped from delicate petals
A rainbow covenant found within this bowl
Crushed together, by ancient mixture
Awaiting necks, chests, mouths
The encouragement to hearts to keep on beating
To bodies, their poisons to release
These herbal healers in my humble hands
No threat to prayer or hymn or creed
Yet still I feel his concerned frowning:
Must I choose herbs or husband
To be my saviour?
Catherine on apothecary
I keep their image
Like portraits in galleries
One last time to view.
Catherine on saying goodbye to her children
Stay ye well away
Keep my illusion for now;
Riley, a fortress.
Elizabeth on the safety of Riley Farmhouse
My hands again in the dirt and dust
The weight of you still clings to my back
No more your sweet laughter
Now claimed by soil and silenced
My heart so hard to locate;
Within my chest or buried deep below the dirt with you?
Where’re it resides, ‘tis bleeding
Yet my eyes be still dry
And a cry is trapped here in my parched throat
Fix the final layer upon you
Scatter clods of earth and stone
Petals for you my daughters
All gone, all silent, all below
With me left here above
Living should not feel like dying
And yet each heart beat is a betrayal
Why am I still here?
This question, my eternal pain.
Elizabeth on burying her children
Take that one last look and whisper goodbye
Though they require the staying, I cannot
None of their preaching can answer why
I leave my family below dirt to rot
No unspoken bond shall now keep me
Where every sight reminds me they are gone
My joyous home now makes me angry
Once a fortress, offered sanctuary, none
My sobs carried on the pitiless winds
I water their graves with unending tears
Wonder what I missed of their guilt, their sins?
To me, all pure, the innocence of years
Yet now all taken, just my broken heart
I take on with me as I now depart.
Elizabeth on leaving the village
I hope you enjoyed these poems.
Thank you for reading these and your support of Three : A Tale of Brave Women and the Eyam Plague over the past year.
2nd May 2022