Most pictures and words from Anthony C Murphy

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Once upon a time there was a baby who appeared from nowhere
Mr and Mrs. Wheater were amazed
They gazed in wonder at the boy for a whole day and night
For he was like a piglet with bigger feet and no tail
The baby boy gurgled and gurned and was fallen in love with
As the sun started to warm the earth
And rouse the chickens
Worries arrived within poverty
The farmers gnashed their teeth and wrang their hands for hours
It would be good about now to see and heed a sign
A sign that all would be well…

They decided to ask the village elder if they had been blessed

After his breakfast of worms the elder came
He entered the hut and squinted at the wrinkly pink child
The boy wriggled and squealed and played with his feet
The elder gave a sigh but smiled and placed his palm against the boy’s sole
The foot and hand were exactly the same size
And then tickled the infant’s little pot-belly

The elder looked at the parents with his watery eyes
He shall cause upset wherever he goes
There was much nodding
He was offered his payment of a fistful of eggs as he left, softly
The poor parents hugged each other and sobbed with woe
And did not hear the elder as he popped back in to say
In his forgetful way
He shall be a cheery child, as happy as a mucky hog

True to foretelling
The boy crashed blissfully through his young life
As soon as he could walk there followed a trail of brokenness
Doors, carts, barns and bones
As soon as he could talk he could apologise
And always with a smile so genuine that he was quickly forgiven
He would burst like sunshine through the most humdrum days
He had his head rubbed or patted umpteen times a week
And was always being given a turnip to take home to his parents

But time forms shadows
And age makes weary

The villagers started to tut and cluck
They watched the boy’s poor father work hard to fix all the broken things
They knew of hardship and would help out
Releasing the father from his duty
So it was that as the boy grew the father fell in to debt
The villagers became dismayed at this mess in their midst
It was time for a gathering

There and then it was decided to place the boy into the apprenticeship of the Smith This brought gasps and sobs of horror
And woe
From the boy’s mother
Who imagined all sorts of catastrophes involving fire and molten metal
The Smith would have sobbed too but he thought it unbecoming
The mother was calmed as
The village elder explained the ruling

The Smith lives on the outskirts of the village
So the boy cannot cause too much mayhem
The Smith can forge strong chains to keep the boy in check until he learns
The boy needs something to occupy
That wandering mind and those waddling feet of his

All at the assembly murmured and nodded approval
They looked at the boy
Who had been seated serenely throughout the hubbub
And they were filled with a warm glow
They thought themselves wise in their solution and slept soundly on it

By the age of fourteen the boy had become the best Smith’s striker in the shire
His hammer blows rang out from morning until twilight
Farmers came from outlying boroughs to purchase the sharpest ploughshares anywhere
His muscular legs had developed in proportion with the once cute cumbersome feet that propped them up
His arms were full of knotted power that had older milkmaids yearning over their buckets
His handsome face
Once so open and sunny
Was now dark all day with concentration
His brow was thick with soot and sweat
His mouth was permanently twisted with effort
Even in sleep
Which was deeper than he had ever known
For now he had no time to dream
And he never smiled again

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