Jill Barr was born in 1951. Her family emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in the West Country near Stroud in Gloucestershire. She studied English at Hull University, then trained to become a teacher. She taught in Portsmouth for 20 years. In 1995 the family moved to Christchurch, Dorset where she has lived ever since, teaching at local FE colleges before retiring. She is married with a daughter and a son.
They are drawn to it. People
Have been walking this ridge
Time out of mind. We meet one
At Segsbury Camp; unsignposted,
Iron Age ramparts covered with
Wild flowers: knapweed, toadflax,
Ladies’ bedstraw. He is English,
His boys Asiatic. They are passing
A rugby ball to and fro, to and fro
Whilst he earnestly declaims
The importance of this site.
We meet at a stile; they defer
To us women. We exchange pleasantries.
The other paces a hilltop car park,
To and fro, to and fro.
Private paddy in a public place
On his phone, effing and blinding.
Three sunburnt kids and a dog
Half in, half out of the car.
The penny drops;” Have you lost a girl ?
We saw her earlier by Wayland’s Smithy.”
(Striding determinedly, inscrutably.
We don’t tell him that.) Heading on
We see him turn towards the lost sheep.
Fatherhood comes without directions,
But we all know what a father is.
We meet the first one the following day.
This time the boys are listening.