Nine Days – Day Nine

This evening sees the end of this nine-day blog. Writing the poem has been a good way of looking back with love and affection and looking ahead with hope and humour. If you’ve enjoyed following these nine days, please share the link or send me a comment.

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

IX

But keep the beech-wood box itself for memory—

For our two grandmothers’ sakes, even for poetry’s sake—

And maybe take

One small bright thimble

For faith & hope & love (all three).

Go on—

It fits your finger—see?

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Nine Days – Day Seven

Unravelling muddles isn’t always good, and sometimes the memories are as sharp as the hat-pins of a previous blog. Equally, though, there are corners full of colour and joyful remembrance…

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

VII

This box, I tell you—with all its forlorn jumble-jangle of bright stuff,

Its tangled pick-up-sticks of hooks & needles,

Of buckles & bangles & dancing-skirt spangles,

Of patchwork pieces—is all yours now.

No longer shall I calculate with frayed measuring tape

(It lies, for sure);

Or cut with rusting shears,

Or mend with reels or spools or bobbins

From this box.

No longer shall I read my mother’s Book of Hours—

This needlebook bibled in downy blue felt.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Nine Days – Day Six

I had forgotten the sachet that I hem-stitched and embroidered for my mother as a child. It was a surprise when it surfaced among the clutter in the sewing box at the end of her life. I suppose she prized it, as I still prize the things my own children made.

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

VI

From chalk & talk in Needlecraft, off-cuts of fabric rustle out:

Triumphantly you hold aloft the soft velvet cord

Of a coat I sewed you for school plays;

And the Irish linen of a sachet for white handkerchiefs—

What on earth is that? you ask.

It is a thing I sewed for Mum, I say, in tiny, pin-prick hem-stitching,

The hankies folded, redolent of peachy face-powder

And other relics of a bygone age,

A bygone stage.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Nine Days – Day Four

“Make do and mend” was a favourite saying of my parents and others in Britain who lived through World War 2. The ingrained attitude meant that in my teen years I spent many hours in a sort of darning purgatory. So I feel nothing but dismay as I review the darning paraphernalia that was left in our family sewing box. Yes, I can still “mend hosiery” (as the cards used to say so quaintly), but it will certainly never be a favourite occupation. Give me a poem to mend any time!

 

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

IV

From just below the open lids

A humble darning-mushroom surfaces—

Rough-scuffed by all the years of cloth stretched

Over it by Granny, Mum & me (& now perhaps by you)

And scratched by needles flashing in & out

Tugging miles of Mending Thread for Hosiery

Unreeling yarn from those quaint darning cards

That no one uses in this century.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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