Mobility Scooter

Walking along the foot path
from the supermarket I heard
a speeding battery motor whirring
behind me, no remote controlled toy
but an elder person’s mobility scooter.

I jumped aside as it shot past me,
a Harley Davidson of Elder travel today.
With four sturdy wheels and
a star trek captain’s throne
flying an aerial with three flags
it powered past me, majestic, magnificent.

Its driver fixed me with a beady eyed stare,
a tiny old lady, her only helmet
her own short grey hair,
emitting strong disdain for
people on foot, lugging shopping bags.

She was gone in seconds
around the corner
leaving me transfixed on the kerb.

Mobility Scooter


A joyous spread of dolls and toys
blockades the living room floor.
The dining room table in mellow light
is sheltered by tall curtains.

Two little sisters Chloe and Claire sit at
each end of the table. Margaret and Tom sit at
the centre and occasionally eat,
in between feeding their offspring.

The middle aged couple quietly chat,
smiling at childish rejoicing.
It’s sausages and chips for tea tonight,
tomato sauce paints little faces.

So long they had craved
partners and family
love and companionship
friendship and home.

After dead end starts
they have found each other
and brought forth children
into a home with –

a kitchen with a pantry cornucopia
a living room scattered with jumbled toys
a playroom carpeted with sharp blocks
a doll’s stroller full of black and white cat
two beds crowded with teddy bears,

and days crowned with children’s tea time.


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, her 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
wine glass in hand.









Two Young Brides


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 newcomers
and 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 border
along with the trees hedges and lawns.



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,
and stares at it in the mirror
beside her wardrobe.
Her hair is blue rinsed and
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.
What a huge relief ! For
Mrs Jones was outspoken,
yes, strident at times !
The pink outfit she was pleased to accept
and graciously paraded
in the residents’ lounge.





Beads, Make Up, and Pink

Going Home

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

The cleaners with buckets and mops,
the women in white uniforms,
call out as she passes
along corridors, past bedrooms.
She knows it is time to go home now,
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
but 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.









Going Home


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 find
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 moved into her rest home room,
they cook dinner for her there.
Mr Jones cooks his own dinner at home.


Seascapes II


A brilliant blue sky beach.
A rocky bank  crowned with
blazing crimson flowered trees.
Two dinghies upended on their sterns
against that rocky bank.
Children playing on the sand
at the edge of the lapping
aquamarine wavelets
gently plashing to and fro.

The old man stared at this scene
from his faraway homeland
painted on the framed tile
given him by a niece visiting him
after many years’ separation
from siblings he had
willingly left behind.
Now home to him was more
than those siblings as
homesickness filled him.

He clutched that tile tightly
as his children and grandchildren
celebrated his milestone birthday,
telling each one of childhood memories
of the beach near the home
of his large family.

They saw his homesickness,
kept at bay into old age
now showing in his joy
in this little piece of home.

Seascapes II



The young sailor with his comrades in arms
lined the ship’s railing
on the commander’s orders.
Young soldiers and sailors
of white colonial stock
now crossed two oceans
to support their parents’ homeland
in their fight for freedom.
They left behind the islands
that had became their own home.

On the deck stood a taua,
a company of warriors of the
seafaring race who had settled
these islands centuries earlier.
They too were crossing two oceans
to fight alongside the colonial soldiers.
In ritual dance and chant
they farewelled their homeland.
They called on Tangaroa the sea
to protect and guide them
as he had their tupuna,
their ancestors,
sailing the vast Pacific
seeking new homes.

Many of these warriors
of both races died and
were buried on foreign soil.

This young sailor survived the war,
married in his parents’ homeland.
He would only see his home islands
again at the end of his life.


War Effort

The young accountant at five feet four
was dogged and determined
in all his rugby playing.
Injuries to his back and knees
not fully healing
became worse with his myopic eyes
not having thick lenses while playing.

In September 1939
Britain embarked on war.
The twenty three year old
tried to enlist with his friends
to serve his country.
The army rejected his bad back and knees,
his myopia and thick lenses,
as did the navy and air force.
With old men not accepted for war
he accounted during the day, worked
nights and weekends
at the freezing works in season.
Long days and weekends for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied young man !  He should be fighting !
A white feather, symbol of cowardice
          arrived anonymously in the mail. 

Desperately he applied yet again
to each of the armed forces.
Again they rejected his back, his knees, his glasses.
He returned to accounting and the freezing works,
long days and nights for his country.
Another white feather arrived.

After the war his friends’
long days and weeks on desert and ocean
set them apart from his long days and weeks
in office and freezing works.
His rugby days with other young men
would never come again.

War Effort