Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Aunties

From a New Zealand newspaper 1916

asks us to respond to the following diary entry:
By the end of 1916, every boy I had ever danced with was dead."


Think World War One.
Think blood,
Think guts,
Think mud,
Think carnage.
Surely tragedy enough to fill the history books.
But there was more.
And, in a way,
I experienced it.
 Because I knew some of the 
As a child I was surrounded by
The Aunties.
Auntie Winnie,
Auntie Doris,
Auntie Bet,
Auntie Em.
All my mothers childless friends.
They lived their lives vicariously,
Often tending to elderly parents
Until they, too, aged.
Enjoying other people's children.
Living on the edge
Of other peoples' lives.
'Because' said my Mother
'All the men had gone.'
I had no understanding of it then.
But I understand it now.
Thousands upon thousands of them.
Middle-aged spinsters,
In an age when not to be married
Was pitiable,
Shameful almost.
They were part of the tragedy of War.


On what shall I focus? The bric a brac
Found on holiday and brought back?
The precious little Wedgewood plate?
Items with which we decorate?
Or shall I focus hard and stare
At the room beyond, with cushioned chair?
Or go still further out and see
The distant garden with bush and tree?
Or further still, into the blue,
Where sky and ocean come in view?
Indeed a cabinet of delights!
Filled with so many wondrous sights!


betty-NZ said...

Lovely word pictures you make.

Sasha A. Palmer said...

You certainly did justice to your childhood memory, it's a beautiful poem, thank you.