‘Near and Far’ by Jeanette Hattersley (Issue 87)

There is still grandeur;
the curve of stone steps,
the long, lazy windows
overlooking the street

where hens peck at crumbs
on the cobbles.
Stained glass, ruby and gold,
catches the afternoon sun

on the doors
once answered by maids.
Stately and indifferent,
two women glide

on sandalled feet
through a quiet garden.
All in black, they rest
under a sycamore.

There is no butler here.
No horses clatter
up the back lane,
no carriages or handcarts

punctuate the days
with their coming and going.
Just the odd thudding bass
has its two pennorth.

The women talk of food, of family,
of friends near and far.
Beyond these high walls,
these hedges that shade and shield,

lies the place they have seen
from curtained vans,
a place they might never explore.
Heat rises from the bowl of Bradford.

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