As Close As You Can Get - Valerie Mendes
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As Close As You Can Get

As Close As You Can Get

For Pamela and Andrew Banks: 7 March 2022

I may be Chaucer’s Cottage but I do not show my age
I’m firm and roundly planted to face the modern stage
Of ifs and buts and don’t knows, of can’t do this or that
I’m cared for with fresh shutters and what is more my Hat

Withstands the snows of winter, I fight the frost and heat
Wisteria is properly pruned – it has the best to eat –
So when you, young and old, pass by, remember if you please
I may be Chaucer’s Cottage, but if you cough I sneeze.

I’ve seen it all and then some: those drunks who stumble by
The parties and the pairings, the solitary eye
And then those who remember just what I wrote and when:
I’m Chaucer in my Cottage. Hear my pen

Read me again and understand just what I tried to say –
It takes all sorts to make our world, don’t break it in a day:
Restore, renew, take courage, fight for truth and love – but hate
Those people who will sneer and mock, destroyers of our fate.

I’m only Chaucer’s Cottage but when all is said and done
You’ll only find me if you look and listen. Do not run
But stand a while to ponder, to think, to sleep, to dream
For I am Chaucer’s Cottage, the most beautiful you’ve seen

And when you travel home again to family and friends
Tell them of me, describe my looks, tell them it never ends –
Our story’s in the making, our spirits join in praise:
I may be Chaucer’s Voice again, and all our roofs may raise.