Action Man

Little Brother follows Dad in
the garden at weekends as he
mows lawns trims shrubs hedges
fills the trailer with clippings
takes it to the tip to empty it,
assisted by Little Brother.

At kindergarten he was first to
get his tools to help the teacher
move the compost heap, spread it out.
Last to put his tools away.
He might be tired tonight the
teacher warned Mum at home time.

Ay home he dug, shaped, sand in
the sandpit, made roads for trucks.
Until he found his dirt pile during
the pandemic lock down, a source
of constant excitement.

Three days a week he goes to
kindergarten which has no dirt pile.
Its spacious sandpit satisfies him
there. He dug a vast river , he says
it is our river, and built a pirate
island for his river to flow around.
He told his sisters he carried the
bucket slowly each time to
take water to his river.

Little Brother sleeps soundly at
night even if her rolls out of bed.

Action Man

Lock Down

In the nation’s lock down we
all stayed home, only allowed out
to doctor, pharmacy, supermarket.
Dad could not go to work but wage
assistance was stretched to feed
children with serious food intolerances
needing strange unusual foods.

To vent his frustrations Dad cleared
the fence line jungles into a huge
heap for the composting plant.
Dad and Mum covered the trenches
taking electricity internet to Dad’s
office, now at the back fence.
They levelled the lawn, moved excess
soil to a heap beside the office then
sowed grass seed on the bare soil.

They stood back, admired the newly
sown levelled patches, saw Little
Brother busy at the excess soil pile.

He pushed cars and trucks up the
pile, across the top down the sides
through newly dug tunnels.

Mum and Dad daren’t move the
dirt pile. Little Brother is loudly
vocal on matters close to his heart.
He urges visitors to view his dirt
pile – no refusals accepted !

His once beloved sand pit lies ignored.

Lock Down

Covid 19

With Zoom finally downloaded
he rang from Australia.

Mum stared at her phone
ringing on her pillow, spoke
to him cautiously took the
phone to the dining table –
didn’t faint ! Gave it to
Little Brother beside Auntie
Jo. Tottered back to bed.

Little Brother talked to
Uncle Mike a few minutes
then ran outside.

His sisters took the phone
talked to Uncle Mike for
nearly an hour about school,
after school, hobbies, while
Auntie Jo did Mum’s tasks.

At last power drained from,
Uncle Mike’s phone. Reluctantly
he said his goodbyes, distress
homesickness resonating
through his mobile phone.

Still not settled at forty, people
relationships jobs are all too
hard. Reading, writing take
so much energy. He is fed up
with his adult relations
enjoys the children.

He wants to come home but new
air fares and $3000 compulsory
isolation are beyond him and
his pandemic stricken family.

Covid 19

Two Young Brides

Two young brides in the family album
embraced new wifehood at twenty-two.

In gossamer gowns on their blessed days,
in rituals of womanly blossoming,
they walked towards wifely happiness,
caring for husbands, raising their children,
all well loved in their homes.

Two young brides born across new thresholds
found a stern code of law in their homes:
wives and children grimly ruled,
daily obeying their breadwinner.

Two young brides in the family album
sixty three years apart.

One young bride, hre own art extinguished,
burnt his art in glaring flames
on his final funeral pyre.
Her release was quiet widowhood
in her home now untroubled
by the breadwinner’s ice cold demands.

The other young bride found
release in departing,
joining her teenagers’ exodus.
She made a new home,
new kitchen, new garden,
which grew in time to
swarm with children, grandchildren,
and a cheerful husband
flipping steaks on the barbecue,
filled up wine glass in hand.


Previously posted February 2016

Two Young Brides

Gardening

Mrs Jones’ mother grew
exquisite carnations in
magnificent flower beds.

Mrs Jones grew gerberas,
pink, orange, red,
with long thin petals
as her mother did.
She set up a rose garden
filled with sweet smelling flowers.

At Mrs Jones’ gardening circle,
so essential for compleat housewives,
women brought their best blooms
to each meeting, vying for prizes:
bath salts, boxed handkerchiefs,
or soft toys knitted by Mrs Smythe.

After some years of traditional blooms
the gardening circle derailed
with broad petalled gerberas,
fat carnations, and unscented
strange coloured roses.

Mrs Jones tried to keep up
with these trendy new comers.
She bought a dirty mauve rose,
unscented, called “silver”.

She tried to love her new
purple flowered tree,
but it changed its name
from lassiandra to tibouchina.
How could she love it now ?

Not a gardener at heart
Mrs Jones was so glad
when her husband retired
and took over the
herbaceous borders along
with the trees, hedges, and lawns.


Previously posted February 2016.

Gardening

Beads, Make Up And Pink

The writing on the sticker inside
Mrs Jones’ wardrobe said
“Likes to wear beads and make up.”
“Loves pink.”

Each morning after breakfast in bed,
after ward staff shower Mrs Jones,
they dress her.
She chooses her clothes for the day,
checks they brush her hair
as they should,
stares at it in the mirror
beside her wardrobe.
Her hair is blue rinsed and
set like the Queen’s every Thursday
by the rest home’s hairdresser.
They powder her face –
her hand is unsteady –
then carefully apply her lipstick.
Finally her beads,
she must have her beads,
strands of them
looped round her neck.

One morning her dresses weren’t
back from the laundry !
After much rummaging
of clean dry clothes
they found a pink jacket and dress
in the clothes baskets.
“Ah ! Mrs Jones’ colour !”
What a huge relief ! for
Mrs Jones was outspoken,
yes, strident as times.

The pink outfit she was
pleased to accept
and graciously paraded
in the residents’ lounge.


Previously posted February 2016.


Beads, Make Up And Pink

Going Home

“Mrs Jones, Where are you going ?”
Why do they always say that ?

Cleaners with buckets and mops
women in white uniforms
call out as she passes
along corridors past bedrooms.
She knows it is time to go home.
Surely they understand that ?

She walks briskly downhill,
how to cross the road ?
With cars rushing by ?
She wants to reach the other side
to go back home again.

Two uniforms appear with a wheelchair
to take her back to the place that’s not home,
to the room that’s not hers.

“Mrs Jones, where are you going ?”
Why do they always say that ?
She walks out again
her legs get too tired.
She tells the man pruning his bushes
she must sit on his wall to rest her legs.
He smiles. goes inside, returns with a chair.

Two uniforms appear with a wheelchair !
They greet and thank the man !!
He rang the place she had left !!

They take her back along the road
to the place that’s not home
to the room that’s not hers.
But she must go home now,
she’s been gone too long,
surely they understand that ?

They say she lives here now.
Her husband will come this afternoon
and visit her in her room.


Previously posted February 2016.

Going Home

Housework

Mrs Jones did her home chores
all day as she ran her home
just as her foremothers did.
Mr Jones took all this as his due
for long days at a man’s job,
just as his forefathers did.

After more than forty years
he was puzzled when
shopping was not done,
clothes were not washed.
Mrs Jones was puzzled too,
she stared at him blankly
when asked if dinner was ready.

Mr Jones knew what men did
which was not cooking dinner,
but only he was cooking meals.

Mrs Jones did her best.
She put the pan on the element,
turned it on, then wandered outside
to stare at the magnolia tree.

She put in the plug
filled the hand basin
with hot water and
was shocked when
the bathroom floor
scalded her feet.

When Mr Jones came
home from shopping
the iron was smoking on its board.
He awoke one morning to
a fire in the pan on the stove.

The doctor filled in forms,
officials met Mrs Jones.
Mr Jones filled in forms
and visited places.

Mrs Jones lives in the rest home
they cook dinner for her there.
Mr Jones cooks his own dinner at home.


Previously posted February 2016.

Housework

Railway Stations

Pudding lane, Bow Church, All Saints,
Poplar. The overhead railway runs
high above long lanes of commuter traffic
flashing trails of red tail lights,
white headlights, in the dark morning.
Ancient names overarching modern machines.

Heron Quays, West India Quay, Canary Wharf.
We glide from small station shelters
into a vast overhead dome
to change trains amongst milling throngs
rushing to work in glass cased offices.

West India Dock, Crossharbour, Mudchute
appear as daylight grows.
Another day, off to work again,
in futuristic transport
yet a little out of this world
as I pass names established
so long ago, recurring still
in history books
and present day news.


Previously posted December 2015.

Railway Stations

The Way Station

A metal capsule brought me
through the skies
to this vast vast way station
called Bangkok.
A vaulted glass roof
and windowed walls
reveal a surrounding blackness.

Long concourses flow off each other
occasional strangers pass me by.
With my body in
three am confusion
I drag my feet as
as my cabin bag with
last minute needs
drags my arms down
in relentless pain.
I must find a new capsule
with my name on its manifest.

Vast signs point east and west,
I know I am going west.
I find no sign for my journey
on western signs. I despair.
Will I ever escape
this vast glass edifice
in its endless blackness ?

A long weary tramp brings me
to a counter of computers.
I show show my ticket and
am directed to
eastern departure gates.

Another weary tramp brings me
to an eastern gate
that accepts my ticket.
At last I escape these
vast glass halls
for my final destination.


Previously posted December 2015.

The Way Station