The forge stands in the grounds of a museum;
An open air museum in the Netherlands.
To enter is to step back into time,
Back to a world of hayfields, horse and cart;
A world without the need for gas and oil;
When ordinary lives linked to the soil.
The light is muted here, gathered in pools
Around the forge itself, and on the tips
Of pieces being worked, wrought by strong hands.
The bellows on the ceiling speed the heat
Until a certain temperature is gained.
The process is so passionately explained.
Wielding a hammer with the clang of Thor,
A little bottle opener forms in his hand.
Delicate ring of ornamental iron,
A twist, a plunge and soon the tool is made.
And then he gazes, enigmatically,
And gifts the tiny masterpiece to me.
My father’s father was a blacksmith too.
In those days, disappeared into the past,
His was a ‘heart of every village’ trade.
For almost anything, they came to him.
He plied his trade in the Victorian Age.
When workers barely earned a living wage.
But more, he fashioned rivets for the ships
That shipwrights crafted at John Samuel White’s.
The yard that made the ship my father took
When war sailed him down the Norwegian coast.
He told his fellow soldiers to take note.
‘We’ll be okay. My dad helped build this boat.’
My friend’s groot-vader also was a smith.
To work with horses was his special love.
He whispered soothing words into their ears
As, with new shoes and nails, the beasts were shod.
A slight-built man with such a gentle touch.
And yet, with inner strength, which counted much.
And so we stand inside the blacksmith’s shop,
My friend and hostess and the smith and me.
We three are linked by bonds as strong as iron;
Bound by a skill which spans the realms of time.
I will return to home, across the sea.
But memories of that day will stay with me.
©Ruth Twyman Lockyer August 2014