Frances White grew up near London with strong family ties in South Wales. During her teens she was influenced by the songs of Bob Dylan, and the poems of Dylan Thomas, The Liverpool Poets and Robert Frost.
She was one of the poets in Words Poetry Group, founded by the late Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas. Together the group published their poems in three anthologies: Away With Words 2007, A Ring of Words 2012 and A Brush With Words 2015. Frances was highly commended in the Torbay Open Poetry Competition 2010. Her first poetry collection, Swiftscape, was published by The Seventh Quarry Press, 2016.
As an English teacher, and later as a Teacher of the Deaf, she encouraged creative writing in pupils of all ages and abilities. Before her death in 2018 from Motor Neurone Disease, Frances lived in South West London with her husband, Stephen. They have three sons and three grandchildren.
Stephen will be donating proceeds from the sale of the collection ‘Dandelion Child’ to the MNDA (The Motor Neurone Disease Association). To see how you can support the charity’s work to discover a cure for this disease, go to https://www.mndassociation.org/
down the back alley
playing with boys
in the dirt and gravel
shrieking in the sunshine
in quiet shadows
to fill jam jars
in the kitchen.
Lily white adolescence
at the willowherb
towering where we walked
by the railway track
before hot summers
the rush of freedom
music in the air
wild flowers in our hair
and then the longing
for red roses.
The Ghost of My Former Self
The ghost of my former self visits me often
sitting beside me, my Gemini twin,
warm, laughing, chatty
unlike the ghosts children create at Hallowe’en.
I tell her I’m glad we walked through meadows, woods and streams
clambering over boulders
risking the grey scree
to lift ourselves above
war, politics, arguments.
She comments on how weak I’ve grown in the past year,
how strange it is to find me quiet,
me who liked to form and voice opinions,
My ghost knows I can still think,
sometimes write my views.
But it’s so slow.
They used to say I was
fast as a ferret down a hole.
I’d like some of that speed now
but with this ghost beside me
I don’t fear the end.
She tells me,
I’ll be able to visit the quick and the dead.
As we walk, my feet don’t touch the ground
with one arm you can lift me to the sky
wave me like a flag, flying kite-high
swing me round and out
light as a lasso
to catch the giddy air
and bring it back
to the warm
This is the time when the hour moves back
into the darkness, into the night
when we gain an hour but lose the light.
Now is the soggy, slippery time when
the scarecrow slumps and like it or not
the pumpkin rules the vegetable plot.
With jack-o’-lantern carried home
face carved and gouged for candlelight
the children shiver with delight.
Protected by a hollow grin
they hide their fear, to trick or treat
for oranges and sticky sweets.
Drawn night by night to the golden glow
their lantern sags, the young ones weep
when it’s tossed outside on the compost heap.
This is the quarter that crosses the year
when hope is torn and nothing is born.
This is the time we quietly dread
the night we remember, remember the dead.