I thought she was a witch with her long black hair and black clothes,

As she sat on the wooden chair in front of the fire

with the kettle on the little shelf

and the black pot swinging over the flames.

Her feet, in those leather boots with tiny buttons, resting on the stone hearth.

She rustled as she moved because Bella always wore silk skirts.

Even when I knew her she was very old but still rustling.

Bella - the one who didn’t fit, who looked so different

with those black eyes which could look into your most secret thoughts.

“Not one of us” was the family consensus – but she was, wasn’t she? 

My great aunt Bella went to school with her five siblings,

walking the lane in the early morning, loving the cool crisp Scottish air.

Bella was a good student but solitary, not fitting here either.

Now they are all gone and old papers have told her story.

Bella was sent at birth to live as one of her aunt’s family.

Her mother was young and unmarried; her father,

a married politician the family thought,

although the young mother always kept her counsel.

So Bella was sent from the Isles to live as one of her aunt’s family.

“Not one of us”.  So that was how she felt, how she lived.

To me, then, she seemed so romantic and unusual.

To me, now, her life potential seems unfulfilled;

no beaus; no children; no career

And I wonder who was Bella?

(c) Claire Alison 2017

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