Virginia Barton

JR2 7C

Oxford, 1987



Queenie, Eva, Lil,
on Headington Hill.
Where mists blow in waiting shrouds
and loud girls with soft hearts
work long hours; and crowds
come and go from the car park.


About two hundred feet up – nearer to heaven than is cosy –
lie Lil and Eva side by side, with Queenie, curtained off;
collapsed in this eerie like so many old birds.
Nigh on three centuries of collected experience between them
and nothing to show for it much.
They long for home  and slippers, tea and telly
and a bit of dirt.
Here easeful sleep lies blinking at the end of a needle
and pain is just a memory.
The nights are never dark, or silent.
Eva calls on God (or Joyce or Norm) to end it all.


Come! Gentle Jesus, loose the knot  and let them slip away
to where the little children stand, in bright array!


Queenie. Eva. Lil.
Are waiting. Still.
Improbably clean and stretched and white.
On high beds. In electric light.
On Headington Hill.


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