I wrote this poem for my mother to capture her life
So many days, breathed into moments of memory;
So many threads of cotton held in her fingers,
Sewing a patchwork quilt of life with castoff fabric,
Each panel telling a story woven together with time.
A young girl on a dairy farm, leaning her bike against a fence,
Sundays to rest and play tennis with the family,
Scuffling the dust on ant bed courts,
Afternoons to lay in the grass after milking is done,
To read and dream of the world outside,
Closing her eyes to wake as a young lady,
Losing her chair at a dance to a brash young man,
Later losing her heart and then her name,
Before smiling at a baby son’s tears through the pain.
Then finding herself on the road,
A lifetime of traveller’s itch that was often scratched,
Never vanquished, and still she is moving on.
Gloucester brought a little girl into her world
Of tents and railway life, following the rails
North again, as her family grew by one,
All the while sewing and patching, dreaming
Of two more daughters amongst sandstone cliffs
And blue gums, struggling sometimes against the cold,
Sometimes against the dark haze of bushfire smoke,
Until, one snowy winter night, she held another son,
Tiny and fragile, delicate like the flakes of snow outside,
Drifting toward green pastures, where another daughter
Completed one side of the quilt, keeping her family warm.
Then one by one, she begins sewing wedding dresses,
As each precious dove takes wing, leaving behind the shadow
Of sadness that descended from the west, a shadow of red iron dust
That seeped into the cracks and left stains in the quilt;
She could never remove them, stroking gently in quiet moments
When her eyes were dimmed with tears.
A brighter sun shone on her tracks, as she followed her guide
From place to place, exploring, moving, shifting, stopping briefly
To settle from time to time, before the wind blew her someplace else,
Until her family gathered around the edges of her quilt,
Huddled in the warmth of love, to listen once more to her lullaby.