1 October 1999

Poem

Elderberry 97

Writing out the label, I pause,

Recalling a narrow track and berries in 97.

A witch of old in my kitchen,

I siphon summers into demijohns.

That July was good for strawberries,

This a sour one, needing extra sugar.

Suddenly, in a saucepan lid,

I see my grandmothers face,

Distorted above a

flowered pinnie.

"Try my dandelion,"

she insists,

and, salving her Methodist guilt,

adds: "Its home-made – not alcoholic."

Not alcoholic!

A glass of grannys

dandelion

Would unfreeze a

politicians hand.

Her elderflower made our Christmas carols

Twice as jolly. Grans arts were needed, too,

With a gale off the lane and under her door.

Sometimes, though, her magic was too strong.

On hot nights, corks would pop in the scullery,

Setting us laughing in fright, while wine ran

Like revolutionary hordes towards us.

I wonder how Gran would judge me now?

She would scorn my new-fangled gadgets,

Having never fathomed a vacuum cleaner;

Consider my central heating soft

And my education beyond my station.

Still, I think she would smile

And pass me a glass of her elderberry,

One witch to another.

Pauline Kirk