Elizabeth Birchall

Night Watch

It’s 1 a.m. and I am ready
For bed. Patience has idled too much time
Away. Laptop off, TV off,
Light off. I clear my supper tray
And look outside. The street light’s off.
On moonless nights I contemplate
The stars. A full moon tonight casts
Pallid light on my dead neighbour’s
Lemon walls, exaggerates
The deadness of his blank windows.

Alone, my ancient elbow crashes
On our bed, followed by the rest of me.
It’s a long time since you and I
Bounced here like randy hares. No-one
Now reaches out an arm or pokes
An elbow in affirmation of
Another life. However good,
A book provides poor company
And Sudoku figures still roll
Round my brain, patterns half-perceived,
Disintegrating like dreams at waking.

A Midlander by upbringing, throughout a life including four years as a Wren aircraft mechanic but thereafter in social work and academia, Elizabeth Birchall’s career has spanned the UK from Somerset to Morayshire, Colchester to Co Derry, Liverpool to Newcastle. She fell eternally in ambivalent love with Ireland, and with no ambivalence loved Maggie until her too early death many years ago. Since retirement she has been successful in getting her poetry into a variety of magazines, including several times in Acumen and The Rialto, and also found a publisher for a slim volume celebrating her local Wychwood Forest, The Forest that Sailed Away. She now lives happily in a sociable Cotswold village and recently published her autobiography Pinnacles and Pratfalls.