As an exercise for the Iowa Poetry writing MOOC we had to do meditative free writing and so I did the meditation etc. and came up with about three pages of writing. It seemed that I would write about doing the kiwi OE thing and coming home again but somehow my mother and her life of raising 6 kids a under the age of 8 came up. I always vowed I would never be at home with the dishes and the porridge pot every day the way she was. We were raised in Dunedin and I remember that our long pants were sometimes so frozen that we could stand them up by themselves. I loathed the grey water washing smell in the wash house, having to put my hand in the kerosene tin for the pickled eggs in that cold slimy sludge and my father boiling up tripe. My mother always seemed to be practically sitting in the fire when we got home from school. We came home for cooked lunch in those days and there always seemed to be ironing or washing or clearing or cooking to be done. I went to sleep with the rhythmic thump of the iron.
Still, being in a big family had its advantages, the Heggies ruled the beach, we had budgies and guinea pigs and trolleys and a lot of freedom I suppose. We had our fair share of falling out of trees, setting things on fire and getting stitches in a variety of places.
My one and only boy led a very different life where I was the big shadow in his life, always there, always anxious, always demanding of high standards of behaviour. Whereas we ran pretty wild, especially at our “crib” and adults really didn’t feature much in our activities. More tomorrow but after WORK. Ahhh have to work for the next week or so to shore up the coffers. FG
Cooking washing etc.
Darning tired by the old fire, mending, breaking amends,
Pinny on still, sparks burning acrid holes in the rag rug,
the pulley damp and warm with the weight of nappies.
Folding cooking washing crying cleaning mending sewing drying
(She aches to put pencil to opinions at the late kitchen table)
Words flare in the grate and float blackly up in smoke.
Whole yarns knitted up in woollen vests, needled and muffled tightly.
Poems stitched up in bodices muttering between clenched teeth,
Words carefully embroidered into the best white linen.
Sonnets soaking in the wash house, songs in socks at every heavy footfall,
Lines hung out to dry on a good drying day, the wind catching their breath.
Stanzas pummelled in grey water and put through the wringer.
Whole novels folded between sheets, ironed flat as a page.
Washing cooking folding drying cleaning mending sewing crying
(She composes a list of promises and plants stealthy seeds)