The Other Boy – Sheila Jacob

The Other Boy

There was another boy
Dad confided, out of the blue.
A lovely little bab, Gran told him,
who died hours after the birth.
The priest baptised him in time-
a soul gone to heaven, Dad said,
his words a warm handclasp
I palmed under my skin
and shared, fifty years on,
with his last living sister.

She’d always suspected
something happened
decades ago, in the big bedroom
of the old back-to-back.
Gran’s bad stomach ache.
Cold supper on the table.
A neighbour’s red eyes.
Footfall up and down stairs
and later, furniture buffed
until it glared like looking-glass.

Spring-cleaning, Gran huffed
at her young daughters
as though they hadn’t noticed
her sudden weight loss
and frequent visits to church.
Things were like that in those days,
my Aunt sighed, relieved
she could claim him, at last.
The unnamed boy who arrived
at their home and never really left.

 

Sheila Jacob has had a number of poems published in  U.K.magazines and on webzines. She has recently self-published a short collection of poems which form a memorial to her father who died in 1965.

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Bombed on the bandstand – Sheila Jacob

Bombed on the bandstand

You ask where I was and I will tell you though I didn’t hear
the full story on the day, my husband’s thirty-first birthday.
He travelled twenty miles to see me, brought our baby son
who cwtched against my neck as I bluffed about feeling better.

I wept when they left, had hours to moonwalk in the redbrick
Victorian hospital built for the insane where iron bars climbed
high windows, corridors cloned themselves, on-duty nurses
chain-smoked and outside, a moss-slimed grotto stood empty.

No beautiful Lady appeared, shone my path to the workroom,
distracted me from pieces of a furry toy I pinned and stitched.
Later, on the ward, Staff Nurse mentioned the news: London,
soldiers killed, horses maimed and I tutted, took my tablets.

Past midnight, her words wheeled across the bedclothes, echoed
at the hub of my own darkness; I lay quietly beneath half-light,
prayed for those bombed on the bandstand, prayed for the dead
to rest in peace, for the living to mend, prayed I would soon mend.

 

On 20th July 1982 the Provisional IRA detonated two bombs during military
ceremonies in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, London, killing eleven military
personnel and seven horses.

Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and now  lives on the North Wales border with her husband. Since returning to poetry in 2013 she’s had work published in The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Clear Poetry, The Cannon’s Mouth, I Am Not A Silent Poet amongst others.

Handmaids of the Lord – Sheila Jacob

Handmaids of the Lord

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word

At twelve noon Sister Therese
rang the Angelus bell,
brought us to a halt.
We bowed our heads, prayed
silently and when we moved
again our footfall synchronised
as though we’d followed
one internal rhythm.

We didn’t speak afterwards,
not straightaway; walked
through the wooden-floored
assembly hall, crates of empty
milk-bottles stacked by the door,
librettos balanced on the music
stand, a crucifix nailed
to a wall above the stage.

Another wall remembered those
who’d gone before us,
matriculated with Honours
since the nineteen-twenties.
Did some look down, intercede
as we struggled with our own fiat,
stuffed Silk Cut and Rimmel
in biro- graffitied satchels?

We inscribed our love for Paul,
Mick, The Yardbirds; rolled up
waistbands to shorten our skirts,
display 15-denier tights.
Our Lady smiled a plaster-cast
smile from a plinth near the piano,
her gilt-edged mantle the same
sky-blue as our summer dresses.

 

Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and now  lives on the North Wales border with her husband. Since returning to poetry in 2013 she’s had work published in The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Clear Poetry, The Cannon’s Mouth, I Am Not A Silent Poet amongst others.