My mother had a liking for names.
She collected curiosities like others collect stamps.
'Hitchin Herts' she would say, and smile,
'Crawley Down', or 'Sandy, Beds'.
She told of Cowes that would not milk,
yachts that would not sail.
We joined in her game, watching from buses.
There were oddities round our way we found:
Cross Houses, Button Oak and Blissgate.
Some melted in the mouth like candy,
Cruckmeole, Ditton Priors, Clows Top.
Others drew strange pictures:
Inkberrow or Frog Pool, Halfpenny Green.
The local auctioneer was Doolittle and Dalley,
our walks crossed a Devil's Spitalfull.
When we moved Down Under new riches abounded:
Wagga Wagga and Coober Pedy,
Wangaratta and Murrumbidgee,
sounds that set tongue and lips watering.
Duchess, and Doubtful Bay, Darling Downs,
Toowoomba and Broken Hill.
Southern England was tame after that.
There's not a lot you can do with Southend.
Berkshire was better. Nettlebed might be painful
but I rather fancied a house in The Gutter.
Christmas Common and Hare Hatch had potential,
Chilton Foliat sounded positively spiffing.
By then the games were for another generation.
New children liked making Banbury Cross
and Wyre Piddle was still good for a giggle.
Then we moved up North, to riches untold.
Mum would have made tongue twisters from them:
'Arkengarthdale Arthur', or 'Osie from Osmotherley'.
Nowadays road maps gives me as much pleasure.
There's Boggle Hole and Cleckheaton, Gomersal and Troy;
this Spring I'll walk The Valley of Desolation,
open the Fairies' Chest or stand on Buttertubs again.
When we next move, I shall insist my home
is worth naming. With a bit of luck,
I might even end up writing in Hope.
artwork © 2008, Pauline Kirk.
NAMES is from Pauline Kirk's latest collection ENVYING THE WILD. The poem together with the cover and frontispiece illustration are reproduced here with the poet/artist's permission.
Read reviews of other books by Pauline Kirk.
PAULINE KIRK: ENVYING THE WILD
Fighting Cock Press
45 Middlethorpe Drive
ISBN 978 0 906744 31 4
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