Thunder today and lots of rain again. There’s  so much of it that moss is making progress across the skylight near where I’m now sitting to write.

I’m going through one of those phases when I find it difficult to put thoughts together, so I’ve set myself 15 minutes to come up with a poem this afternoon….and it’s based on something I’ve never seen before which must be a good start.

A while ago I was walking at Astley Abbotts near Bridgnorth and in the church of St Calixtus hung  a maiden’s garland. Our ancestors had a way of marking the death of an unmarried woman of ‘blameless reputation’ by making a special garland that was  carried before her funeral procession or borne on her coffin. This one was a hoop of wood, with ribbons and gloves tied to it. The possible explanation for the gloves is that they represented a challenge to any who might besmirch the maiden’s reputation, or her virginity.

This garland was in memory of Hannah Phillips a young woman who lived across the River Severn and tragically drowned as she crossed the river by boat on her way to prepare the church for her wedding the next day, May 10th 1707. Her sister Catherine set up an educational foundation in her honour.


Remember for a moment


a simple  woman

in her billowing working dress

soaked to the skin

sucking rain from her lips

drenched hair

flying in wind

while the blotched sky

closes  in

and the boat tosses.


She  clutches her flowers

still counting the hours.


Remember for a moment


a simple woman

now in a  mourning frock

with  her salt tears coursing

to the wooden crown

on her lap.

She  loops it with ribbons

and unneeded gloves.


Her heart’s  full of sorrow

for a vanished  tomorrow.

That took me more than 15 minutes and it’s hardly my best! I blame it on the subject matter, but I may try that subject again. Fascinating stuff.

About rhymebydesign

Mother, grandmother, mainstream poet and short story writer. Started off in life as a teacher, but then moved out of the classroom in to educational administration. Curious about what makes people tick, including my own tickings! I enjoy long walks, thought provoking books, theatre and leading a simple life. I offer a customised poetry writing service for any occasion you might like to mark. Contact me at rhymebydesign@hotmail.com for a quick quote.

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