I have been inspired to write this poem because of two posts on the loss of friends and the importance of making sure in our busy lives that we spend precious times with those we love and care for. These are Victoria Slotto and A Poetry Pub Post.
It is almost a year that I lost my oldest friend. She was just 60 but we had known one another for almost 56 years. We were neighbours and friends in our childhood and were neighbours again when my children were young.
In our childhood we were always playing outside and there were many open spaces for us to discover. We grew up in a place that was not so popular and posh then by the river Thames. We had the streets, alleys, allotments, reservoirs and Barnes Common when older to run off to with friends.
MY FIRST FRIEND
My first friend is the first, of my friends, to leave me,
And how I miss the mulling over of mindful memory.
Different understandings of the way things were.
Unlocking distant sounds, intensifying colours
To share for tea or coffee in our November years.
First, we would have played inside each other’s houses.
In mine, there were the many furry beasts to care for.
In hers, we taught and tended to the tiny dolls.
With mothers close by, ready to prepare our tea.
From the inside to the outside, first, we went into our gardens,
Or were these more just backyards behind the tall terraces.
A sparkling outside toilet I got locked in.
A perfect patch of grass was all we had to sit on.
Further first we ventured, out beyond the gates,
Into a shared back alley and a ruined place.
A building for our nightmares an alley for our games.
Budge, In the River, Hide and Seek and planes.
A first to wander further, faster up the street,
Legs pushing scooters or roller blading skates.
Further on we ventured towards the open skies
Into the green spaces of our childhood friends and games
First we wandered near her father, digging deep into
The turf of his allotment, just up the terraced street
Dodging folk along the paths to our mysterious marsh,
To the deep dug out waters of the then so many laughs
Further first when we were older with guide dog pups to walk
From Surreyside to Middlesex, to Hammersmith upon
the bridge of dreams, suspended from its mighty girders,
Staring through the gaps down to the swirling currents.
First to go together to Saturday Morning Pictures.
First to take the bus to different swimming pools.
First to take ourselves to picnic on Barnes Common.
First to wander wild along the river’s Surrey side .
We shared a kind of childhood that we think should be remembered,
A childhood that was free to explore green and vibrant spaces,
Letting us run so far and deep in the breath of the wild.
With the passing of the years we pray we don’t lose that child.