FRANCES WHITE

FRANCES WHITE

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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/

Dandelion Child-v1-front cover

Dandelion Child

Dandelion child

down the back alley

playing with boys

in the dirt and gravel

laughing, shouting

shrieking in the sunshine

 

safe

 

between gardens

in quiet shadows

gathering brash

ragged blooms

to fill jam jars

in the kitchen.

 

Lily white adolescence

clean dresses

shy wonder

at the willowherb

towering where we walked

by the railway track

 

a lull

 

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

up mountains

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,

forcibly silenced.

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.

 

PROMENADE

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

heart of

you.

Frances White 

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HALLOWE’EN

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.

Frances White

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