Frank McMahon lives in Cirencester; published poet on-line and in print, Riggwelter, morphrog, Brittlestar, Cannon’s Mouth, Dawntreader, Persona Non Grata and in three anthologies.. First collection (“At the Storm’s Edge, Palewell Press, 2020;) Second collection, “ A Different Land” to be published in 2022 by Palewell Press; second prize in 2021 Wild Nature Competition ( Indigo Dreams); read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2021;playwright on local radio; two podcasts with Ragged Foil Productions; member of Somewhere Else Writers Group and Wordbrew.

Long road home

It was as I remembered it, the long, rough track
and the plain squat house.
Gone my uncle loading churns onto the cart
and the heavy horse patient in her traces,
gone the hens squabbling around my aunt
as they hunted for the broadcast grain.

I waited, turned and was greeted by a shout,
“I know who you are!” A stranger pulling my face
from the leaves of the family tree.
He urges his herd of cows through the gate
and invites me back to his home, explains
it was he who had taken on this farm.

We sit around the table in the long, white-washed,
single-storey house, sip tea, swap news,
made welcome but chided in equal measure.
My brothers had kept in touch, honouring this house
as the new, authentic family locus.
But I had been neglectful, had somehow failed
to understand my obligations,
to comprehend the loss of names and genes,
sisters all, to make new lives and homes abroad.

And so I sat, civil, lovingly discomforted
until I’d paid sufficient dues, could rise,
give thanks and leave, powerless
to replace the growing emptiness
in school and shop and church
and round this hearth.