Beatrice waited, worried when I returned home late to the farm from Skibbereen…she made her famous “Clergy Tea”, a blend of soothing herbs, laced with plenty of aged brandy. I’d spent the day with Alice, Godfrey’s sister, and was not yet ready to tell her story.
In the easy camaraderie of women our age, we sat feet up by the fire with tea and scone. It was summer and come donkey’s bray, Beatrice set out to feed and tend to her pets at dawn.
In spare boots and Godfrey’s old, worn fleece I tagged along. “Well, we did not get carried out of the “Little Chef”, I reported to Beatrice as we watched the sunrise from her barn gate. “We arrived at the same moment, Alice griping I was late”.
“I only knew Alice from a tatty old photo or two” “She brought the sandwich tray she snitched from Godfrey’s wake, told me to say thank you” “She said, I dislike wobbly tables, cannot abide tables that wobble, so we sat at the only one that did not wobble, (and where the floor was not a vulgar color) “Yes said I, Godfrey disliked wobbly tables to, said they gave him “Grue”, set his poetry askew.
At his name she tapped her chest, said “clear a path if I should wheeze, as my brother was I to am allergic to daisies. Like Godfrey, Alice dressed eclectically, in a kilt with a lacy hem, sewn ineptly on, sensible shoes, wooly knee socks, and a name tag belonging to “Mrs Cox, Bank clerk.
” I never trusted Alice with my goats, Beatrice shook her head, mixing tubs of sweet feed and oats”. She teased our old Billy, got butted in the backside, she teased Mulgrew’s bull, had to run for her life, leap the fence into the pig-pen” “She teased Godfrey with beets, but it was he saved her from the goat and bull back then, she must have long forgotten.
“I hope you never have to laugh, in cool of early morn, after all night up drinking “Clergy Tea’. I barely made it down the overgrown path, wet with dew, to Beatrice’s long drop loo, there I sat….crying until I laughed, laughed for Alice, cried for Godfrey, for when we parted Alice said, “take this book, it is my poetry”.
“COLOR ME UNREPENTANT”- BY ALICE. Was the title. I stood, gob-bound in the parking lot, Alice scrutinizing me, said, “I dislike wobbly tables, precarious piano stools, herring, gelatin, most laws and all rules, but I don’t mind you” Then changing her mind about the sandwich tray, with a shrug tossed it into the back seat of her black London Cab and sped away.. I am delighted to share some of Alice’s poetry-
STREETS OF HOME- Our wee town was called “Simpler’s Joy”, I chased across wet, cobbled streets. I chased my younger brother with beets, I rubbed his face with a moth. Always laughing, we two ran, to fetch our alcoholic Gran, out of the pub, out of the pub and home for tea, down to the pub we ran, home we sang with our Gran.- By Alice.
WHAT UTTER CRAP, MY DEAR- Due to behavior that harmed no one, I was sent away at 15 to live as a nun. Sister Mary Santa Gertrudis hit me with a wooden spoon as she drew near, called my efforts at art work, “What utter crap my dear”.
Old Sister Agnes Paul heard me singing in the hall, “If I had a Hammer”, strident and clear. Got another nun to pin me as she only had one arm, crying “that is inappropriate, utter crap my dear.
Mother Superior The Bent, as we called the boss nun, towered in her clacky shoes over everyone, called me a vessel of holy pride, until I refused to go to Mass, was caught passing naughty pictures in maths class. “She lectured, Alice, you cannot remain here” “How delighted I was put on the train for home, thinking what utter crap my dear- By Alice.
VERN- Greasy Vern doth broke my heart, oh I fell for Vern’s charm, I landed hard. He combed his hair with Pole-Cat Lard, he’s long gone to Australia. Oh weep no more now Alice bold, grieve no more and learn, make your own way in this world, you need not follow greasy Vern. – By Alice.
STATUE IN TOWN SQUARE- A statue there is in my hometown square, of a greedy man- Tenbrooks Smythe the Second. I dressed him in a frock, a frilly blouse, and a smock, wore panty-hose when he was alive, I reckon..
…THE WOBBLY TABLE- Color me an old bat, for I dislike wobbly tables. I would rather sit on a sliverey herring crate. Color me unrepentant, no one will ever know lest I share this verse, that I without question, Alice given a choice over hate, chose love ,chose mirth..By Alice.