Laureate Lines

Eyam, 1665


I did everything they said.


I am wearing the Abracadabra still.

The pedlar promised it would keep us safe.


I picked barberries.

They took so long to wash and dry,

To crush to powder with the salt.

They did not mix well with the vinegar.

I made John drink it. Kept him warm.


How can poison cure?


When the children took sick,

I searched for walnuts, bought wine.

The walnuts are steeping still.


It was Mary brought me the flower medicine.

I gave it to them, kept them warm.


When the sores came, I knew it was lies.

But I made the paste – bay salt, rye meal, four eggs.

Jane told me about the pigeon cure.

I spared them that.


The last thing I did, when they no longer knew me,

I took a bag of onions, hollowed them,

Put inside fig, rue, Venice Treacle, roasted them,

Pressed them to their sores. All night, frantic.


I sit here now, shivering hot,

In a house still stinking of onions.


The Reverend is bringing feverfew.




Cathy Grindrod


Off On 1


I would just like to say

to you who sat beside me

on the H1 bus

which left at 7.55 am

and took one hour ten minutes

to attain its destination,

that I hope you relished

those two bags of

smokey bacon

you devoured for breakfast

half as much as I admired

the expert way you masticated

smacked and crunched your route

through Oakwood, Smalley, Heanor,

Codnor, Leabrooks, Somercotes,

and maybe I should also mention that

I finally decided

after sixty seven minutes

of intense deliberation

that the music from your headphones

would be best entitled ‘mad assassins

sharpen up their axe blades’,

though ‘fingers on the blackboard

with the needle stuck sonata’

would have come in pretty close.

Thank you also for allowing me to find

that I can manage with the best

of British passengers

to look ahead expressionless

while fantasising wildly on you

v  e  r  y    s  l  o  w  l  y    s  t  a  r  v  i  n  g,

while people way above you stuff

their mouths with crisps

and treat you to the bass note line

of angel choirs for  a  l  l    e  t e  r  n  i  t  y.




Cathy Grindrod



Used for a Christmas card


('...a robin's average life span

is not much over a year...')

Go for it Robin. Burn

your red breast on our gardens,

our parks. Breed bright

on our Christmas cards. Be.

Quick flick, twig to twig,

Tic tic tic sweeee. Flit free.


Swivel our heads if we dare

turn away. Make a din.

Go into battles to win.


Prove those legends old hat -

breast bled from the thorn

of the crown and all that -


Eat. Breed. Make men believe.

Sing us that soft wistful song.

And again. Sing it again.




Cathy Grindrod