Poetry: Joan

September 18, 2017

This month in our Cornish poetry series, we have Melanie William’s poem about her aunt Joan, the Cornish girl who fell in love with an American GI during WW2.

Gingham not silk, linen not sable

Plain stitch and cross stitch

Displace embroidery.  All honest, simple practical

A frank face, impish smile, open heart,

Recall the early, stronger, taller Joan.

 

In childhood group, large-eyed

She looks on piercingly

A nimble, natural beauty, abjuring vanity.

In youth, through ‘undiscovered’ Cornwall

Joan spins by bicycle

And swims in home-spun suit

Her winning warmth a match for the icy sea.

 

A true, straight soul, bound to no time

But easy with all, Joan might have been a Pilgrim maidy

As a maid from Pool

Spirited to the States, her soldier soul-mate Ray

His smile as ready as each day were new

Shared fresh economies and a heart as true.

 

Returning to Cornwall

Joan, quick-stepping fairy

Kept a haven of neatness,

A corner of innocence

With her quick-walking beau.

 

Items that tell the story of Joan (new Hosking) and Ray Hietpas, including Ray’s immaculate GI army jacket are on display at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, find out more here.

Jaon and Ray (Photo: courtesy of Melanie Williams)

If you enjoyed ‘Joan’, you can read and listen to more of our Cornish themed poems hereJoin us next month for more in our poetry series.

Melanie Williams

Melanie Williams [nee Hosking] born in 1958 of [mostly] Cornish and Irish ancestry now lives in Wales with John Tudor, a retired Welsh doctor. Melanie was a ‘school failure’ but entered Cambridge to read Law at 27 followed by an MA in English Literature at Sussex University. From 2007- 2015 she was Head and Deputy Head of Law at Exeter University, much of this at the Tremough Campus in Cornwall. Melanie is Emeritus Professor of Law at Exeter University and has published a number of articles and two books on links between literature and law.