Raine Geoghegan, In The Hop Fields

I See You in the Hop Fields

for Phyllis Lane

‘The Last Waltz’ by Engelbert Humperdinck
plays on the radio, a favourite of yours.

Whenever you heard it, you’d twirl around the room,
dipping here and there, the rest of us would groan,
“Oh no, not Humperdinck again.”

The green velvet chair that you used to sit on,
knitting one pearl, one plain is empty.

I see you in the hop fields,
your hair tied up under a scarf,
your gold hooped earrings dangling.

You are picking hops, singing an old gillie,
perhaps ‘I’m a Romany Rye,’
walking back through the vines to the wagons,
your skirt swinging.

Your father calls, ‘Come on, my Phylly, gel on.’
You try to catch up with him.
I see you smiling.
I hear you say,
‘Daddy, daddy, wait for me.’

Koring Chiriclo ii

Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up your covels, we’ll be on our way.
Take our time, get to Frome’s Hill by May.
Jel on, me dad would say.
The cuckoo’s callin’, untie the grai.
Up onto the vardo. It’s a kushti day.
Jel on, me dad would say.
Pack up yer covels. We’ll be on our way.

Just One Room

He stood on the back door-step,
took out a brand new key,
unlocked the blue door.

They both took their chockas off.
He walked in first, she followed.
Her eyes fell on the ceramic white sink
in the corner of the kitchen.

In the vardo they had four bowls;
One made of gold china for washing their bodies,
the others were metal:
one for pots and pans,
one for cutlery
and one for washing clothes.

The smell of fresh paint hung in the air.
Alfie knocked on the wall, stroked it,
took a deep breath.

Amy walked into the hallway,
neither spoke.

Once in the sitting room,
Amy’s mouth opened, wide.

‘Dikka kie, Alf.’
He came to the door.

‘We could fit our whole vardo in here,’ she said.
‘This is just one room.’

Glossary of Romani words

gillie – song; Romany rye – Romany man; gel on – come on.
koring chiriclo – the cuckoo; jel on – move on; covels – belongings; grai – horses.
vardo – wagon; kushti – lovely; chockas – shoes; dikka kie – look here.

Raine Geoghegan MA lives in West Sussex, England. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet Apple Water: Povel Panni was published in 2018.

Raine is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her poems were featured in the short film Stories from the Hop Yards as part of the ‘Herefordshire Life Through A Lens’ project. rainegeoghegan.co.uk

Koring Chiriclo II appeared in Under the RadarJust One Room in The Travellers’ Times.

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