As I started to get back into the garden at Dalefield, to wield a trowel and furtle in the heavy clay soil, relieved by the leaf mould we’d made from the big beech tree…

As I gardened with the cyclamens, the peonies, the memories, the Elders who are present with me as I furtle …I found myself humming a little song.

A hymn tune actually: you may know it as “Father, hear the prayer we offer“, which we used to sing at Newton Primary School, Chester…

My song had different words: And later when I wrote it down, and tried to find a natural substitute for “Father”, I struggled, all through mother and sister and sibling and friend and lover and stranger,


I arrived at “Witness”.

Here we are: and may I send my love to all who read – and rest with – this, and the poems that follow it.

Thank you for being witness for me.

Witness, hear the prayer we offer

“Father, hear the prayer we offer”:

Pleas for ease and just “to be”.

There’s still strength within this body,

Fire in belly. Let it be!

God, you know I hate still waters

How I dare, full-heartedly, to

Touch, to move in soul and body,

And exploring boundary.

Trust my strength in times of weakness

In my darkness, deep confide.

Through endeavour, failure, danger

Shame and nightmare… be beside!

© Kathy McVittie 4 December 2019

and here’s another recent and raw poem for you to witness, if you dare:

For I am not you

“Don’t you argue with me my girl!

How dare you argue with me!”

I dare because am a woman now:

a wise, foolish, virginal, slutty

bit of tart butty, and I want to learn

henceforth from my mistakes not yours,

from my errant crusades

and staying out late with you not knowing where I am.

For I am not you, even though I feel (and felt) your pain

screaming off you in sheets and mesenteries

and your anxiety seeping down through the years

and settling dark behind my frowning eyebrows,

the monobrow you would not let me pluck

without your cautious “for your own good”.

How dare you follow me still, in the guise of all

whom I’ve mistaken as a mother substitute?

And then to turn around this plea:

How dare I now persist in hanging down

my head in shame before your shrine,

afraid again I’ll desecrate your altar,

your sacrificial cow, your Papal Bull?

I’ve left it late to birth my umbilical cord

and did they ever sever ours? High time.

I bite it with my teeth –

the teeth so very much like yours,

you’d think we were related.

And now this grief’s outdated.

© Kathy McVittie 6 December 2019