The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,
Welcoming her sons home from their toil,
Her harbour filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,
A place for growing up and growing old.
The scarlet dawn awakens to the song of Mrs. Jones,
Four and twenty children has she bore,
And every time the father says ‘Enough! The final one!’
And every time the mother says ‘One more?’
Three sets of twins and three of quads then six, who came alone,
And every one is loved as is his right,
Every mouth is filled, every head is neatly combed,
And every rosy cheek is kissed goodnight.
A for Annie is the first, the second B for Brad,
And C the third is beautiful Claudette,
Then D for Daisy, E for Eve and F for Ferdinand,
And thus they travel, through the alphabet.
A hard life hers but happy and no other she desires,
With spark enough to take all life may bring,
Contentedly she stirs the pot upon the cheery fire,
Each scarlet dawn awakened as she sings.
A farming man is Mr. Jones and happy with his lot,
Providing for his wife and swelling brood,
His vegetable garden fills the ever-bubbling pot,
So never will his children want for food.
His herd of cows give up the milk that growing children need,
His sheep give up the fleece that keeps them warm,
Fresh laid eggs from happy hens and apples from the trees,
Oats and barley gathered in the barn.
Waving fields of wheat supply the flour for the dough,
Snuffling pigs provide the breakfast feast,
Self sufficient Mr. Jones no other life would know,
The little farm has everything he needs.
From ‘morn till night the busy farmer ploughs and reaps and sows,
While Mrs. Jones is left to do all else,
Cooking, cleaning, shaking beds and washing dirty clothes,
All the while a-singing to herself.
Soon she will be bouncing yet another on her knee,
The family crib waits in a tiny room,
Tomorrow she will go to town, a doctor for to see,
To turn the sweet Yolanda in her womb.
For unlike every other who was born with ne’er a hitch,
Yolanda is a baby in a hurry,
But Mrs. Jones is confident that though the babe is breached,
No cause has she or Mr. Jones to worry.
Now there upon the cobbled street the ailing wife we spy,
For sweet Yolanda can no longer wait,
In haste, back to the little farm her stumbling footsteps fly,
Where Mr. Jones is waiting at the gate.
And there, beside the little gate, delivers he the girl,
But near to death his ever-loving wife,
No other child will follow sweet Yolanda to this world,
For sore the damage done to give her life.
The evening tide rolls in upon the golden, sandy shore,
As Mr. Jones a silent vigil keeps,
Little faces peer around the creaky bedroom door
A-watching o’er their mother as she sleeps.
But when the sickened reaper calls he finds no soul to claim,
For on the little farm the tide has turned,
Against all odds the roses bloom upon her cheeks again,
The pot is stirred, the cheery fire burns.
But all can see, that changed is she, the spark of life she lacks,
No longer does her song bring in the dawn,
Only tears of longing for the little baby, Zak,
The baby who will never now be born.
No morning kiss to send the farmer out to till the soil,
No loving arms to hold him as he sleeps,
Sad is he to see the love they shared so badly spoiled,
But thankful he, his tortured wife he keeps.
Tide on tide roll in upon the shores of Banjo Bay,
The baby crawls, the woolly sheep are shorn,
The wife scrubs out the heavy pot and clears the toys away,
The husband ploughs the field and sows the corn.
A life that isn’t perfect but a life that could be worse,
The tragedy behind, but not forgot,
But tragedy is never far, it waits to cast its curse,
And now it comes to twist the strangling knot.
The evening star shines down upon the narrow, cobbled streets,
As sweet Yolanda wakens with a start,
The fire of fever burning on her pretty, freckled cheeks,
The drums of hell a-pounding in her heart.
Along the alphabet they fall, as would a pack of cards,
Mrs. Jones in torment kneels to pray,
‘Dear Lord above reach down and save the harvest of my heart,’
‘Take the devil’s pestilence away’.
‘How wrong was I to weep and wail and shun a loyal man’,
‘To worry for a child you cannot bring’,
‘When every blessing you could lend was here, within my hand’,
‘Heal them Lord, and ever will I sing’.
The evening fog rolls in upon the gently waving wheat
And shrouds the empty streets of Banjo Bay,
Many a prayer is said this night on many a bended knee,
Some are welcomed, some are turned away.
The citizens of Banjo Bay stack up the bales of hay,
For all must help to bring the harvest home,
Singing as they swing the scythe in glory of the day,
And singing there beside them, Mrs. Jones.
And now beside the rusty gate the happy farmer stands,
Listening to she he calls his bride,
A-singing to the children who will work this blessed land,
And every one is present, A to Y.
copyright Catherine Turner