My ribs whistle In that winter wind And my bones groan Like the oak That stands firm by my feet Aching in its limbs As the storm passes by The old tree creaks As its neighbours rub side to side. My lips cracking Like bark around the trees Oh this weather Is not kind to you and me. The strong, cold breeze Searches our souls Embracing us in endings As we all grow old The telephone wires Hum their ghostly tune A lullaby for this night That will be over soon My eyes are watering Tears roll down my cheeks I yearn For a good night’s sleep. But there is hope A light close by My wife coming to me Wants to be by my side. How my heart and soul are lifted As she kisses my brow: “Come my dear So we may shelter From this windy, wintry howl.” Neil
A Necklace of Stars is a meditation on childhood, viewed from the other end of life. Older people have made poems, songs and embroidery themed around childhood lullabies for the “Necklace”; we’ve also invited written responses to the pandemic, so that people can share their experiences as an antidote to lockdown loneliness. Here Neil writes a kind of anti-lullaby, with the wind singing to him and the ghosts of memory for company. A Necklace of Stars, working with older people in Derbyshire, is supported by Arts Council England, Arts Derbyshire, DCC Public Health and Derbyshire County Council Home Library Service. This project is particularly aimed at countering isolation; during the pandemic we’ve been working using distance methods – post and phone conversations.