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ppf SHOP ONLINE      MEMBERS’ EVENTS     MEMBERS’ COMPS & CALLS Aug: Second Light (for women poets)
see/hear: Maggie Sawkins reading Cord, from Zones of Avoidance

donations will be very gratefully received.

latest on site:
   Judith Wozniak
   Alessio Zanelli
   Janet Hatherley
   Judith Wilkinson

latest new pages:
   Janet Hatherley
   Barbara Hickson (biog)
   Chiara Salomoni (biog)
   Margaret Wilmot
   Susan Jordan
   Gill Learner

Aug: Second Light competition (women poets)

latest comp results:
   Frogmore 2024
   Second Light 2023
   Ware 2023

selection of books:
   ppf shop online

previous projects:
   Blyth Valley Radio
   poetry tREnD

featured poet – Ruth O’Callaghan

Ruth O’Callaghan


and the sins of the fathers

Then, the trains were not the worst of the matter.
Now I know that so many arriving meant so many had died.
Father said it was a season of renewal, like corn.
I was to obey him at all times. He would protect me.
I asked if he meant the thick smoke that harmed lungs.
He kissed me. Called me Son. Said nothing of the ash.
The ash would creep in. I was forbidden to open my window.
Forbidden to play outside. That was the worst of the matter.
I would hear the others outside. They were silent,
marching barefoot on stones. I sang to the tune of the gravel.
I envied their game of picking leaves, swallowing them
before their guide turned. Like in What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?
When the trees were leafless and the grass gone
they dug in the mud. Father said there’s nutrients in mud.
I knew they liked me – they gave Father toys they’d made.
A top from bone or a doll so real its hair and skin felt like mine.
I couldn’t thank them but Father said he’d make sure they knew
how matters stood. I never saw them again.
I was forbidden to look out but I heard their high, strange song.
That was the day everyone was running.
The smoke was thicker. The ash covered the house, entered it.
Father shouted at me.
He pulled papers, dashed outside with great bundles.
The sun glinted on his buttons. Others rushed past, didn’t salute.
Some soldiers scrabbled at the gate. Father had to discipline them.
The gate stayed shut. The soldiers were motionless, playing Fish.
Mother threw clothes in a case. Father travelled in civilian clothes.
In Nuremberg I heard a sparrow. I think I was six.

Ruth O’Callaghan

in collection Vortices, 2016 (Reprinted 2017), Shoestring Press,
ISBN 978-1-9103234-8-9