Rose Bray was born and grew up in the Isle of Man. Her family has worked the land on the same farm for more than 500 years. Since leaving to become a teacher, marrying and having two children, she has lived in the North of England, Switzerland and Sussex.
Although she loves The South Downs and the Sussex coastline, it is when she returns to the island, walks over the fields, headlands and by the rocky shore, she feels she has returned home. Her poems reflect her love of the countryside and sea with narratives, often poignant, lyrical or amusing.
The Road to Ballavarane
The old road – no wider than a cart
swooped and plunged, turned a corner
was steadied by an incline, its exhuberance
contained by wide sod hedges
twice as high as my head.
A froth of red campion on slender stems,
and among them, harebells of cloudless blue
tossed their bells in the joy of the dance
with the warm south-easterly wind.
I breathed in the playful sunshine
its warmth skipped me towards
the farmhouse with its lime-washed walls
and green front door that rattled in its frame,
to the yard where collies barked in mock anger.
I opened the door to an over-warm kitchen
the smell of Sunday roast still lingering.
There my grandmother waited for me
wearing her tired wrap-around apron.
She was not given to hugging anyone
so tender words remained unspoken.
* * *
Raising the Bowman
If her father had not fancied mushrooms for breakfast,
she would not have gone into the woods
to forage for the pink gilled treats
between the fallen trees.
If the early sun had not been shining
on the clearing where she knelt,
the archer may not have seen
her simple grace
sought her hand in marriage
and she would not have borne his son.
If he had not been middle aged
he may not have been so patient with the child,
making a small bow for his play
as soon as he could walk,
bending, shaping each yew branch
as he outgrew the other.
If the boy had not grown so tall
and become a master bowman,
he would not have been a chosen one
to serve on Henry’s flagship.
His mother would not have stood on Portsmouth’s Hard
waving off her firstborn son
when the Mary Rose sailed on the morning tide.
She could not have guessed,
amongst the nit combs, the wooden bowls
beside his scattered arrows,
her son would lie
near five hundred years
rocked gently on his bed of sand.