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Hoeing Stones

Standing hoeing garden stones
Eyes awash with tears
As memories flood back from
More than sixty years,
To the little village churchyard
For which my dad cared
And which duty I, as a child,
So very unwillingly shared.

He dug the graves, cut the grass
Scything carefully around
Each sheared and flower strewn
Humped burial mound.
All the paths were of loose stone
Which, after ever spring self seed,
Just attracted and harboured
Endless stretches of weed,

Each year it was my job
To shim and hoe them clean
So that  those spick and span paths
Matched his carefully mown green.
I was a spoiled, lazy, idle child
Complaining every single year
But dad was quietly firm in spite
Of my every tantrum and tear.

Now he comes gently back to mind
As I hoe my  stones, laid for easy care.
Just for a while it's the old churchyard
And we are both back there.
Good job done he says
As we  stand side by side
And we both inspect that path
And my chest swells with pride.

And now I stand here
Leaning on my garden hoe
Thinking of  things I wish I'd said
All those many years ago.
But the past is the past
And we both know it's for the best
That I wish his memory goodbye
And let him slip gently back to rest.

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