Two poems by William Bedford

Two poems i.m. Florence Winifred Bedford 20.10.1915 – 09.09.2008

Early Arrival

She came a mite early by the calendar,
fuelling gossip and glee in spiteful eyes,
an autumn surprise for court fourteen
in rack-rent Brightside’s cuts and ginnels.

The landlord thrived on stolen lives.
But the horses she saw pulled carts of flowers,
and early morning milk hot from the cow.
The neighbours jeered behind her back,

a child born the wrong side of the sheets
like a music hall chorus-line high-kicking
into a blind future. So she lied to change
the picture. Told stories of better dreams.

Even the landlord might have preferred
her dreams to his own: early morning moors
and tors windswept by a cloud of skylarks.

(published in London Magazine, June/July 2013)
The Bell

They couldn’t afford to buy you a bike,
so bought the bell instead, a Christmas present
wrapped in last week’s newspapers. It still rang.
You clanged it round the house for hours,

then up and down the cobbled yard outside,
excited by all the promise a bell implies.
They never managed the bike. Lost interest.
Forgot it then said you were too old.

You kept the bell instead of photographs.
Photographs can tell lies, those summer smiles
on Sunday School outings, picnics with no cider
and sandwiches of bread and margarine.

You did buy a bike, the year you married,
and kept a promise nobody else knew,
riding the long clouds of purple heather.

(published in The Warwick Review, July 2011)
William Bedford’s selected poems, Collecting Bottle Tops, and selected short stories, None of the Cadillacs Was Pink, were both published in 2009. An essay on ‘Ted Hughes and Translation’ will be coming shortly from the Ted Hughes Society Journal. A new collection of poems, The Fen Dancing, was published in March 2014.