On a fairground forty years ago
I sold you a ticket for the golden gallopers,
and your grey hair and your grey skin
galloped over technicolour horizons,
rehearsing a journey you would not even begin.
You were only twelve years old,
and I was thirteen, my first job on a fairground,
barking the tickets and taking control.
Your coughing ended the ride,
hot cheeks and white skin tendering my mind
where you grow pale, and spectre-thin, and die.
Now, you are just a girl in sepia,
wearing your new dress and new shoes,
your hair done in a new style,
all of them grey for the summer holiday.
I cannot find you on the fairground.
The golden gallopers have gone.
The music has had its day.
You cried and rode away, and I never knew your name.
William Bedford’s new collection The Dancers of Colbek has just been published. From the medieval dancers of Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne to Wesley, Tennyson, Lawrence and Clare, William Bedford’s The Dancers of Colbek explores his early years among the market towns and seacoasts of Lincolnshire.
‘The key to Bedford’s poetry is the unflinching openness in his dealings with readers … a very emotional and enticing read’ —AGENDA
William Bedford speaks directly in verse that is uncluttered and musical. Always authentic, always poignant’ —THE LONDON MAGAZINE
‘Haunting and haunted … to be savoured on so many levels’ —THE HIGH WINDOW