He pondered over the note he wrote,
Sat hunched and cold in his chair,
He nodded once as he read it then
And signed the bottom with flair,
The house was not even stirring then
As he rose, looked out at the sea,
It said, ‘By the time you see this, Jen,
I’ll be hanging from some old tree.’
Then he slipped on out to the breaking day
As the dawn was beginning to spread,
He should have been further along than this,
By now, he should have been dead.
He’d heard them stir in the attic room
When he’d come in late from the bay,
His wife and a lifelong friend of his
Who’d thought he was still away.
He’d heard the sound of them making love
As he crept to the attic door,
His face turned white in the passage light
As he sank to the passage floor.
The tears had welled at his eyes at last
As he crept back down the stairs,
He’d lost a friend and his woman, Jen,
And the love that he thought was theirs.
He wandered over the grassland there
To the woods at the edge of the cliff,
But not forgetting to take the coil
Of rope, he held at his hip.
He wondered how many times they’d met
While he was away at sea,
And laughed, the minute his back was turned
To leave him no dignity.
Then pictures rose in his troubled mind
That he shouldn’t have had to think,
He cursed himself, for he must be blind
When his friend had tipped her a wink,
The pain was really too much to bear
For he’d lost not one, but two,
He’d loved them both, she’d broken her oath
And his friend had betrayed him too.
He found a tree, hung over the cliff
That was old and gnarled and bent,
With a sturdy branch that would do the trick,
It was too late to relent.
He flung the rope and he made it fast
Then fashioned the hangman’s knot,
It would swing him out and over the sea
And send him where time forgot.
He tugged on the rope to test the branch
To see if it took his weight,
Dropped the loop down over his head
When a voice cried out, ‘Just wait!’
He turned to see his Jen on the path
That ran alongside the cliff,
‘What are you doing, my love, my love,
Is my love worth less than this?’
She said she’d gone for a walk that night,
Hadn’t been able to sleep,
‘Your friend is up in the attic room
With a woman from Warley Heath.
He only met her a week ago,’
She said, ‘and borrowed the bed.
He said that you wouldn’t mind, but I
Wasn’t impressed,’ she said.
He pulled the rope from over his head
And he hugged his woman tight,
‘I’m such a fool, but I thought that you
And he… It was such a fright!’
The sun beamed down and it seemed to say
That a love so strong was rare,
While a gnarled old tree drooped over the sea
With its rope, still hanging there.
David Lewis Paget