David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
The Water Tower
I sit and stare at this empty page,
The wind howls long at the winter eaves,
The cloud is heavy, and black with rage
As squalls dance in through the myrtle leaves.
While deep inside in the cottage gloom
My love lies weary, cocooned in dreams,
I hear her cry in the darkened room
Call out one name from a nightmare scene.
‘Michelle, ’ she mutters, then groans aloud
I grit my teeth at the open door,
The wind it eddies in dust and leaves
And echoes long at the water tower.
‘Michelle, Michelle, ’ it grumbles and groans,
‘Michelle, ’ it whispers, then skips and howls;
My love rolls over in deepest sleep
While I keep watch through the early hours.
The storm comes in and the rain drives down,
Batters at windows and roof in vain,
The wires whine in a humming frown:
‘Michelle, Michelle, ’ is its one refrain.
And tears roll at my weathered cheek
The clock chimes five at the early hour,
Michelle once crawled from her bed, asleep,
And went to climb at the water tower.
Her hair was black as a raven’s coat
Her eyes set back in that tiny face,
Three winters long was her spell of dreams
Before she crept to that dreadful place.
Three winters long was our fairy child
Who lisped and chattered from heart to heart,
The cottage door had a faulty latch –
I’d always meant to replace that part.
But now, awake from her nest of dreams
I see my love at the open door,
I wait in hope, but her eyes are ice;
She’s staring out at the water tower.
Then I look down, and the page is full,
I’ve scribbled the words of an ancient rhyme,
Over and over and over again –
‘I’ll fix the latch when I get the time.’
And she goes back to her bed to cry
While I sit frozen beside the door,
The latch still rattles, the door’s ajar;
I’ve punched three holes in the water tower.
13 June 1999
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