A Day Trip to 1959
Imagine Fate re-dealt the decades’ deck
and sent me shuffling half a century back.
I’d rise with such lightness of shoulder,
so little baggage. Swot ‘A’ level awhile,
Jane Eyre OK, I’ll get the hang of Browning soon.
(Meanwhile a Soviet Lunik has started the Space Race).
A kick-around at the Rec, tea, down to Dev’s,
kids cackling, juke box hot with fun. (Remember
that Buddy Holly has already died). And Helen.
She has fair hair, brown eyes and soft brown legs.
No history I know of. No issues. Saturdays, we go
to the shelters at the back of the Parade.
In the strict sense, it’s not an endpaper at all,
but he’s found a letter now, in a scrapbook,
from the girl in Solva (they were seventeen)
and it reads like an epilogue
to youth’s last stretches,
a book’s or chapter’s end.
The writing’s clear, round, strong.
I am in bed and missing you.
(He remembers reading that the very first time,
the heart’s, the pulse’s leap.)
She writes about the school in Dewi Sant,
the history homework. She’s in bed now
(O bed, bed, bed!), listening to Radio Luxembourg,
Bobby Darin singing Dream Lover.
Her mother much prefers Sinatra.
But the girl writes,
I will remember you in my dreams.
The plod, the schmaltz, the earnestness.
The brief while’s joy.
As boys, we shucked into old blue jeans,
felt the welcome of sunlight
as we breasted the ridge, over into the woods.
We gathered the conkers, fat, beautiful,
plucked their brownness from soft shells,
savoured the glistening,
then set to hardening them, in vinegar,
ambition spilling in.
Later bigger boys would come
(there were always bigger boys),
swinging their gross, rock-hard opponents,
our conkers splintering.
Don nowadays, working in sales,
is groomed and punctual, successful,
gathering in the text and the bravado
of half-year balance sheets.
He recalls that earlier self, misses him.
He remembers breasting the ridge,
the morning’s sunlight and the glow
of chestnuts’ brown before the plucking out.
Robert Nisbet was for some years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen. His poems have appeared in his Prolebooks pamphlet, Merlin’s Lane (2011), have been published widely in magazines in Britain, and in the USA in magazines like San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, Constellations and Main Street Rag. Two poems appeared recently in India. One of his short stories was featured in the recent Parthian anthology, Story II.