Historical Poetry

Helena has written poetry since her teens and is published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. A particular interest is writing ancestral poems to bring another dimension to the historical process.

The following poem is about an ancestor born in what is now Germany in 1824 who gave birth to an illegitimate baby girl in Bremen during May 1849, yet by September of the same year was burying her child in Rochdale, Lancashire.

Helena is currently writing a book of historical poems.

The Seamstress, 1849
first published in Pushing Out the Boat Issue 13

He watches her,
small and sharp
like the needle
darting between
her fingers,

watches her tack
and sew and mend,
weaving in, out
in, out as thread
gathers pale fabric
and hides frayed tears.

He does not know
she bolted, crossing
the North Sea hidden
in the dark folds
of the aft deck—
Bremen, Bremen, Bremen
is all she can tell him.

What he does know
is that her dress,
with its threadbare
disguise of filth and regret,
had no place in the gutter
where he found her.

And as he watches tiny
sorrows bind together
her ancient, ragged gown
the more he sees of her

and the more
he wants
to unpick
every
stitch.

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