My grandmother’s bells

Zac, 10 months, takes the world by mouth. Visiting the other day, he was unfazed by brass on the tongue as he alternately licked and tinkled, one bell in each hand.

The lilac’s just coming out, reminding me of the poem I wrote some years ago.


On this day of gifts
my mother’s familiar hand
remembers my birth
in the time of nor-westers
and lilac.

The nurses fed her whitebait;
my father made shortbread.

Her card takes liberties,
vasing up together
helebore, anemones and erlicheer.

I make my own posy:
Granny pegging underpants
huge and white
beneath the violet arc of sky;
a sailor dress from Ballantynes;
Victoria Park’s dark track;
a hot wind
and the mountains
propped at the end of the plain.

7 responses to “October”

  1. Family lore, huh, and nostalgia. And our lilac’s out now, grapey clusters opening over the buttery yellow rhododendron. Nice to find you here, R.

  2. E visited the other day, on her way to Dunedin and found a bunch of lilac in a vase on our bench – she commented that the fragrance always reminds her of bringing you home from hospital where a large bunch awaited her…..

  3. Lovely pen. It’s funny how poem memories remain inside use. I still have images from this one from when I first read it. Those hot plains, the mountains, the underpants under the violet sky.