A Village, Old Families:

In memory of Pete Moore

The village pub, a homely inn,
the place where people, gathering,
discuss and solve the day’s concerns.
A simple bar, where shadow burns
the teasing fire on faces so
well known, the place of public flow.

A stranger’s eyes, as rare as lock
in use, yet once the minute’s shock
has passed, a welcome’s warmth is roared
for chance of news, or tales the Lord
would frown upon, or better still,
fresh music played with humble skill.

And once the common welcome’s done
and almost everyone has gone
to where their drink and chat were left,
the stranger won’t be made bereft
of company, for one or two
will stay behind, to talk about

the stranger’s life, or local tales
of tragedy in winter gales,
or rumours from the capital:
which minister “is full of bull,
which Lady’s caught herself a man,
which industry’s gone down the pan”.

Some strangers, though, are not as strange
as most suppose. For these, the change
they’d undergone since childhood days,
the hardship, grief, and lines of age,
it made their welcome bittersweet,
denying friends in deep deceit

for though they’d felt the need to leave
as adolescents do, they’d grieved
for memories of children times,
of playful pranks, of childhood crimes,
of happiness so long ago
with those they now deny they know.

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