Turning, turning, from side to side
First the left, then the right
Turning, turning, throughout the night
Failing to sleep, in my parents’ bed
Thoughts, feelings, left unsaid
Far too late: they are long dead
How did they sleep? Was there a way?
This road runs onto the motorway
Incessant, the noise; incessant, the sound
Incessant, the pressure pulses and pounds
My parents’ lives; so much richer than mine
Family, children, property
Secure niche in society
Neighbours, friends; life warm, deep
But the cars, the road: how did they sleep?
Returning to my meagre, one-bedroom flat
No children, no family, no wife. My parents
would see a poor excuse for a life. I’ve come
to terms; am content with that.
This silence, I have. This silence, I keep.
I sit, I write. At night time, I sleep.
This is all I have. This is what I have.
I am glad they don’t see it
They would see it as a plight
But I have it, I hold it, in plain sight
The vast, indifferent silence of the night
I always spend Christmas and the New Year at the family home – in Barnsley, South Yorkshire – where I was born and grew up. These days, apart from my brother, who still lives there, the family has dwindled, to such an extent that the only other relative I get to see is an elderly uncle, whom we always invite to dinner on Christmas Day. Over the past few years, since the death of my parents, I sleep in my parents’ bedroom, but I always find it an arduous experience, due to the incessant noise of cars on the busy main road directly in front of the house. Returning to the blessed silence of my flat in Peterborough a few days ago, I was struck anew by the contrast in the environment, and it was musing about this that led to the writing of “Silent Night”.