‘The Branch’ by Peter Jackson

‘The Branch’

by Peter Jackson

“Last Christmas time, out walking after lunch –
I’d had too much to eat and needed air –
Before me on the ground I saw a branch
That had the look of arms held out in prayer.

I stooped to pick it up and thought I heard
A woman’s voice cry ‘Mercy’; yet I knew
That I was quite alone. A single bird
Was startled from a bush; away it flew.

I peeled away the tattered scraps of bark:
The branch was hard as iron yet smooth as cream
And as I held it in the gathering dark
I fell asleep and soon began to dream.

A maiden sadly burdened came toward me
And, sobbing, laid her bundle on the earth.
I bid her show her face, but she ignored me.
‘Twas then I saw that she had given birth.

The child she’d borne was lifeless as a candle
Extinguished by a sudden gust of wind,
And as she piled the leaves upon the bundle
She cried, Forgive me Father, I have sinned.

And, as I watched, she rent her clothes asunder
And lay down naked on the frozen heap.
Oh, how I longed to place my arms around her,
But – though I dreamt – I knew I was asleep.

I woke to find the moon was shining feebly
Upon a mound of earth near where I lay.
I set the branch upon it, pondering deeply
The fate of that poor maid; I knelt to pray:

Forgive her, Lord, if she has sinned and even
If she killed her own beloved child in grief,
Pray find a place for both of them in heaven;
I ask this for the sake of my belief.

And as I stood, a sudden calm descended;
I wiped away the tears that stained my face,
For I knew the poor maid’s misery was ended:
She and her child in heaven would find a place.”

A ghost story written by Surrey resident Peter Jackson

Throughout December and early January we’d love to hear from you with your favourite (or self-penned) Christmas and winter verse.

NB: Any self written poems will be credited to you unless you specify otherwise. We cannot guarantee which poems will be included but will try to include as many as possible.

Please complete the form below:

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