A Lichfield Claim to Fame

by Heather Fowler

Philip Larkin is buried in St Michael’s churchyard.
You may not think so but it’s true; just off the
red brick Rector’s Path down a cool and narrow track
where trees criss-cross and leaves mingle into lacy
shade, here, where on hot days the air is thick
and viscous as an ancient pool, lies
an enclave of Larkin graves.

The Hull librarian, with his round, thick spectacles
and lowered sights, whose glum works speak
so bleakly of spare emotion and empty nights,
as a child and young man stayed with grandparents,
aunts and uncles here, spending high and holidays
in a semblance of familial cheer. It is fair to say that
family never featured

close to Larkin’s heart, his views of mum and dad
written clear in well known verse, but I sometimes
fancy that, when grown, he travelled to the family
home and sat a while in the Lichfield gloom thinking
of the ones he knew and the Philip he had never met.
More likely though, he never came again to sit.
Apparently, he hated it.


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Heather Fowler