Flashback Friday – Poem – “Mistress of The House”

This poem about my Nanna, who passed away in October 2016, was written shortly afterwards. It was then part of the Minerva Speaks project in March 2017.

A performer read the poem as Minerva from the highest balcony of the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute while audience stood in the Titanic Bandstand and listened to the live broadcast of local literary works.

 

 

The Mistress of The House
A poem for my Nanna.

A yellow brick house called Remuera
Full of wonders
Silver bells and tiny shells
For playing bridge
We use as money for a shop
Stop and hide the thimble now
Go and look with nimble fingers
Turning over precious things
And sneaking through the Den
Getting warmer
Warmer still
Our hearts fill up with love
For our Nanna
Calm and safe and a little bit stern
But a twinkle in her eye
Tiddly-winkle
And so many wrinkles
I take her hand
And pinch her skin to see how quickly
It falls back into place
She commands her space
From a brown chair
She is always there it seems
At Clairmont Ave
Baking rock cakes
And making cumquat jam
Squatting in the garden
And popping up to Bentleigh shops
Gently guiding us and showing us
The best way to be kind
The be funny, to be bold
To be thankful and to be old and wise
In this guise it’s harder to see
That in her youth she was a beauty
But more than that
She was courageous
Her stories tell of places far away and foreign
Of black boys and lost boys
And little graves on islands out to sea
Of colourful hats made beacons
And of four sisters dark and bright
We cast our minds back to a beach
Where Nanna dives into the surf
And smiles ruddy-checked and sticky with salt
We can taste that curried egg
And soup and bread
And at the back of our throats now
A lump is forming
All the ferns and camellia are still
Adorning her front door
But the mistress of the house is there no more.

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