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3 poems by Sam Henley Smith

Hand-me down

You probably didn’t imagine

I’d be wearing your clothes.

That when I go to bed I am

wrapped in your nightshirt,

the one I nursed you in.

Blue with stripes, the brushed cotton

now strokes a daughter’s skin

softly, a touch from you.

You probably didn’t imagine

I’d be holding you still.

That when my fingers reach in

and snuggly fill your sheepskin shapes

each glove is forgiven

for thinking I must be you,

their enveloping embrace

like me, a

hand-me down.

It was easier to feel your love over marmalade

A year ago today we

made marmalade Mum.

Lancashire lass no shortage of sharp shrift,

stands and stirs that hot pot as though

lives depend on it,

boiling bitternesses contained and controlled

without a shred of irony.

This is how it was meant to be.

Seville citrus and side-by-side-ness

a song of sticky home preserved as

hair hung damp with lung-sucked sweetness

falls and frames familiar features

watching for that setting point

it took too long to reach.

We should have begun years ago but

the fruit was different then and

I savour this new lack-of-judgement flavour.

It's no wonder I can't bring myself to open the last jar,

all that is left of our

bottled pith and kin.

The Sun Came Out For Christmas Day


The Sun came out for Christmas Day

to show you we had gravelled the drive

no muddy puddle to receive your carefully polished shoe,

to show you the sea still shines over the hedge, carrying transporters

and the dreams of a young sailor like you

to show you a dog you will never meet, who you would cry over and Mum

would claim was just like Bess.

The sun came out for Christmas Day

and The Queen of 'We'll Meet Again' opined that

it had been a difficult year but didn't admit that she'd been wrong,

that we were all in it together, something we'd weather,

that in time we would meet again, you, me, Mum.

In the potent concoction of pain and April sunshine we had wanted to believe, but

it's not so easy in the rain.

The sun came out for Christmas Day

and wearing your wool coat I walk beyond the hedge, seaward,

my cuff edge peeping out of your oversized sleeve,

once more

arm in arm.


It's Boxing Day now and I'm waiting for that call

where Mum thanks me for The Best Christmas Ever and tells me

how much she enjoyed the day,

how the boys are lovely but how she misses Harry, and

how did I make my gravy?

How we shouldn't have spoilt them like that and they

could have driven themselves back but how lovely it was to have a drink.

How she loved watching the Morecombe and Wise Christmas Special again,

not realising she had snored and we had adored her with our own gentle laughter.

It's Boxing Day now and I'm waiting for your crafted email,

'Went the day well!  We knew it would, so as to reflect the love.

On the spur, moments just for happiness, much sought, but sometimes fraught, nevertheless.

Kith, kin, irreplaceable, always in great demand, but flitting and fragile.

The warmth which only a hug can give, and the tear which always follows by right.

Gently, just to savour pleasure, do we share delight.'

I am bereft.

Armed with qualifications your past denied yet insecurity craved, I wish

I could write like you.


Sam is passionate about the power of poetry and, in the words of Denise Riley, wrote to ‘earth her heart’ after losing both her parents in the Covid Pandemic. Living and working in Hampshire, Sam has had work published by Ice Floe Press, Post Script, and Analogies & Allegories and was shortlisted for the Folklore Prize.


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