A kid in your grade whom you don’t know very well shows up at your house one day to tell you something important. What does he say?

I open the door and standing there looking directly at me is Hershel, from my class, the quiet kid at the back who doesn’t really like to make eye contact with anyone.

I wonder if is he is lost and I’m about to close the door when he speaks.

“Good evening Riley, may I come in?” His voice is very deep for a twelve year old, most people make fun of him for it, or they used to, I haven’t actually heard him speak for almost half a year.

His voice startles me and I almost close the door anyway, except I don’t, but I can’t just invite him in either, he could be crazy, it’s always the quiet ones, that’s a saying for a reason.

I debate for a moment as he just stares at the ground, he has got really curly hair, it’s dark brown at the roots and almost blonde at the tips, he even has blonde highlights. It’s quite feminine hair, I never realised, maybe it’s the voice that threw me.

“Come in, but don’t touch anything,” I caution, before leading him up to my bedroom, Hershel is quiet, too quiet, I don’t even hear his footsteps behind me, freaky.

I sit on my desk and he just stands, eyes on the floor.

“I have something to tell you,” he says quietly.

I wait for him to continue.

“Go on,” I say.

I wait some more.

“Tell me,” I command.

“I remember that when Miss Brent died you spoke at the assembly, my dog has just died can you please do the same?” He asks.

I am speechless, not only do I not know Hershel, I didn’t even know he had a dog, certainly I didn’t know the dog well enough to write him an epitaph.

I want to refuse but I don’t because I like to think I am a good person which is how I ended up standing in front of a grave on Saturday morning, speaking about a dog I never even met before.

Hershel is quiet, but I can tell he is sad.

When I finish he just stares at the grave, then he walks away, I follow him, into his mansion, because he is rich, like famous person rich, given a tour of his house, that rich.

We walk into wealth and he just stands there at the threshold, during the tour I saw a gaming room, I want to go there but Hershel is silent.

Then the maid comes up to us with a lovely bouquet of flowers that would fill up my whole house, she tries to give them to Hershel but he is just staring at the floor again.

I take them and thank her, before reading the note out loud.

“We will send a replacement, love Mum and Dad,” the words are out of my mouth before I even realise what I am saying, I re-read it appalled, and I carefully put the note down.

“You may go now,” Hershel says looking at me directly.

“You can come with me, my mum is not a chef, but she’s making spaghetti and meat balls, I don’t have a pet but I have a little sister, she’s almost two and she’s basically an animal,” I say tucking a braid behind my ear as I take my bike out of the shed.

“You do not have to be nice to me because –”

“Because you lost your pet and your parents are mean, yeah I do, come on it will make me feel better.” I say grabbing his forearm and dragging him along, it’s awkward with my bike, and I scratch my leg but I don’t let go.

“You do not have to drag me, if it will make you feel better then I will come.” He says going into the shed to take out his own bicycle.

I laugh, “Was that an actual joke? I thought you didn’t even know what it was.”

Hershel smiles as both get on our bikes and ride back to my house.

 

 

 

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Poems: National Poetry Month

I know I usually do a commentary before I introduce my next subject, however as this is the last day of national poetry month; I wanted to jump right in. I love poetry, so I thought I might share my favorite poems with you, I love poetry, however I can’t share all of them with you so I chose just two of the many I absolutely love, and my reflections on them. I have also put one of my own poems 2012. Enjoy.

 

John Donne

Love’s Alchemy.

 

Some that have deeper digg’d love’s mine than I,

Say, where his centric happiness doth lie.

I have loved, and got, and told,

But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,

I should not find that hidden mystery.

O ! ’tis imposture all ;

And as no chemic yet th’ elixir got,

But glorifies his pregnant pot,

If by the way to him befall

Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,

So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,

But get a winter-seeming summer’s night.

 

Our ease, our thrift, our honour, and our day,

Shall we for this vain bubble’s shadow pay?

Ends love in this, that my man

Can be as happy as I can, if he can

Endure the short scorn of a bridegroom’s play?

That loving wretch that swears,

‘Tis not the bodies marry, but the minds,

Which he in her angelic finds,

Would swear as justly, that he hears,

In that day’s rude hoarse minstrelsy, the spheres.

Hope not for mind in women ; at their best,

Sweetness and wit they are, but mummy, possess’d.

 

There is something so beautifully sinister about John Donne; I absolutely adore his love/hate relationship with love, which makes this ‘love’ poem even more intriguing. I read this poem first when I was seventeen and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t really think you could make a love poem that was ‘angry’, in my mind it was all roses and sunlight, soft beautiful images, but with Donne I was surprised but pleased, there is such bold honesty about his poems, so much hurt and raw emotion, so many layers I discover every time I read. My favourite line is ‘Ends love in this’ one of the single most powerful lines I have ever read, it’s so artfully done, I love the way he’s questioning the whole institution of what it means to love and be loved, ends love in this, is this loves extent? Is this the power of love? Is this what everyone wants? – Question after question, there is so much emotion and confusion he evokes with that simple line.

 

John Keats

Ode to a nightingale

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbnes pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,                   5

But being too happy in thine happiness,

 

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death,

Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,        55

To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

 

Ahh Mr Keats how much I love these two stanzas, for very different reasons, from the beginning we are arrested, my heart aches, it’s sad, so unnerving in the imagery it creates, already the scene is set. His continuation with ‘and a drowsy numbness pains my senses’ it creates a confused sense of unease – a an almost drunken state but not quite, because he seems to be choked with emotion so much so that he is made numb, he’s not over emotional – he just has a heavy heart and hat is so much worse.

The next stanza, I have memorised forever, to me it sounds like a suicide letter, yet it’s not sad or angry, there is something so content about the tone, how easily he could just slip into deaths arms. Death has been personified, not something that should be feared but someone, who you softly whisper to in the night. I love that he used the word rich, like he would enrich himself to die, death is not the end, just another stage, it shouldn’t be feared, but something to look forward to with reflection.

 

 

Annabel Ashalley-Anthony

The Letter: 2012

I dreamt one day the world would end,

That this to me, this letter send:

I, done with life, though it seems wrong

I wish to cease my spinning song

So adieu, say I to life and love

And away I go like a soft white dove.

 

 

This poem I wrote last year, the Mayans predicted that the world would end everyone was going crazy, disaster movies everywhere, documentaries everything. I just thought how does the earth feel? Maybe the world will end because the earth is feeling suicidal, maybe the earth has had enough of putting up with humans with pollution with everything and has decided to die.