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Whiteway

A poem by Kathryn Southworth

Find your way to the roof of Gloucestershire,
beyond the handsome stone of Painswick,
past mellow Sheepscombe, pretty Miserden,
through avenues of beech and larch
to the back-of-beyond,
and you may stumble on a onetime white road,
on either side shacks and bungalows
dumped anyhow. 

This was The Colony.
And so it is still. 

Gathering all conditions of folk,
from university to able seamen,
and many women too,
giving a most picturesque effect
with bare legs and heads,
feet covered only with the sandals of the ancients.
(Postcards of this quaint scene
may be purchased in Stroud post office.) 

Living, at start of their new life,
by Bible rules, all held in common
without coin or any law but conscience
brotherly love and free union,
and small and grown up people just the same
called by their Christian names alone,
brothers and sisters between them all.
Close to the land and what the earth produces;
for want of matches they rose with the sun
to bed at sundown.
No sugar, salt, no bread
but grain ate raw in the hollow of your hand. 

There were no artists then
but all were artists.

Kathryn Southworth is a former academic who was born in Lancashire, lived in the Midlands and North London, and recently moved to Stroud, Gloucestershire. Her first poetry collection was Someone was here (Indigo Dreams, 2018). She has published three poetry pamphlets: Wavelengths (with Belinda Singleton; Dempsey & Windle, 2019), No Man’s Land (Dempsey & Windle, 2020), and A Pure Bead (Paekakariki, 2021).