Nine Days – Day Two

You can read the first part of this nine-day poem on a post made yesterday. I hope you will enjoy this entire series.

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

II

From the first drawer we pluck out a little basket, full

Of buttons, beads & even dried-out melon seeds.

I treasure still those bracelets that you made for me,

While Mum, it seems, kept samples of the tatty trinkets

Allison & I created out of seeds

Then painted with our poster paints

In lurid pinks & purples.

 

(c) Lizzie Ballagher

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Nine Days

My mother was no more enthusiastic about sewing than I am, but she sewed well and encouraged me to learn from her. It’s only now that she’s not around any more to support and advise that I appreciate just how knowledgeable she was, and just how many hours she spent each week sewing because – in a time of scarcity – there was no choice but to sew one’s own clothes and furnishings…and mend them, too.

Over nine days, I’ll be publishing short extracts from a new nine-part poem. It begins here.

My Mother’s Book of Hours: Novena

I

Double beech-wood covers yawn wide as a cathedral bible

To yield their treasures,

And suddenly we’re unearthing from the sewing box

The scriptures of our family history—

Here, in all their muddled glory.

(c) Lizzie Ballagher

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One Woman’s Daily Commute

For five years I made a daily round trip from mainland Kent to the Isle of Sheppey, in those days accessible only via a small, narrow,  vertical-lift bridge. I loved the long views across the marshes as I travelled, as well as the bird life I saw each day.

Island Run

Dawn:
Sun slices open like a bloody orange.
Marsh mirrors flash mischief
(A little Indian magic)
To ward away the sky’s so evil eye.
Beside them, the long, dark finger of the train
Unpicks the stitching of the railway line;
Beyond, pylons pierce and thread that sky
And great cranes cut its calico,
Scissoring coldly through the cloth,
Ripping through the motley rags of clouds
To part the heavy fabric of the day.

Dusk:
Muscovy and moorhen tack their way
Through roosting reed-beds homewards.
An overweight old moon is gathered
Into the new moon’s hammocked arms.
Motorists, tyred and tired, drag hems of smoke behind them
While long white chimney fingers quilt
Cotton wool on cambric blue; and mist uncoils
Like dragon appliqués from hill and water
Until . . . fog shrouds and silences all.
Then seagulls swoop and loop embroidery
To mend the rending tear of worn-out day.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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