GREY, Vivienne Blake

Grey
by Vivienne Blake

That was the year we all had a crush on Miss Mayland.
A year of triumph and disaster
And we did keep our heads.

We swam a mile at the lido,
Domini, Kevin and me.
The weather was grey,
the water too cold at fifty degrees.
We sang as we swam
Rose, Rose I love you
Skin starting to crinkle
A you’re Adorable
Strokes slower and slower
I’d like to get you
On a slow boat to China.

Counting the lengths–
when can we stop?
That was the year that they kicked Churchill out.
Everything grey
Everything drear
Rationing still at its worst.
Ten million for the spectacles and eightpence for the meat
At Much Binding in the Marsh.

Everyone grim,
everyone grumpy.
That was the year we sang at the Festival:
How beautiful they are, the lordly ones.
Precise, rehearsed and drilled
heartless girls but we all did our best.
So we won, we won, we won.
On the way home we sang on the bus.
Took off our hats and shouted.
What would they say at the Convent?
Took off our gloves, shock horror.
What would they say at the Convent?
At Church street we went in the chippy.
How frightful, what would they say?
Fish and chips in the street
in our prim uniforms
but no hats and no gloves. It was good.

We paraded our triumph, our pride and our sin,
broke all the rules in loud celebration,
banished the grey.

Vivienne Blake discovered poetry in her seventies, during an Open University Creative Writing course. She is making up for lost time, with poems published in anthologies and magazines, including Long Story Short, Equinox, and the French Literary Review (in English and French). She lives with her retired dentist husband in rural Normandy.

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7 thoughts on “GREY, Vivienne Blake

  1. I wish I could tell you how much I love this but I can not find the right words. It evokes such a nostalgia though I didn’t experience that time. There must be some common spirit about it that speaks so to me. See? I’m not even being coherent – I truly am impressed with this.

  2. I must say that I agree whole-heartedly with JulesPaige – I do love this poem and it does evoke a nostalgia for a time not experienced directly – I can feel that water and the lovely shedding of grayness – the complete ‘aliveness” singing across the page, across time, beyond time and space from one heart that will never go “gray” to another that smiles as she reads. Brilliant work! Bravo! I believe the nuns could they read this today would agree 🙂

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