as pearls spilled
from a string—
an indigo sky
flashed with lightning
of alto melody
swaddled in a shawl
of homemade lullabies
milk bottles dotted
sunlit with sugar grains
even white loops
of baby-yarn slide
on tortoiseshell needles
pale cakes rising
in the gas oven
a child wakes
to the sound of dishes
and quiet footsteps—
on the wireless
Last January, I saw the email call for submissions from Christmas Press for their 2017 anthology, A Christmas Menagerie.
I spent several afternoons devising a story based on memories my mother had told me, about a Christmas she had on the family dairy farm at Federal in the 1930s when she was a girl.
Although I have made up the characters and the plot, there really was a cranky cow called Pansy who gave my mother a black eye when being milked.
All their cows had names. This photo isn’t Pansy, the cranky cow. When we were going through photos, sorting out names and places, Mum told me it was Anzac, a nice cow born on Anzac Day.
The surprise Christmas meal was also true, and I know that Mum and her family had sing-a-longs with friends for which my grandfather played the fiddle. They were Methodists, and music was essential to their lives.
We celebrate Christmas without her now, but I hope Mum would be pleased that a story she gave me so many elements for is now in print.
In my case, the “attic” was the wonderful online repository from the National Library of Australia, TROVE. Many digitized local newspapers can be found there, listing social events like birthday parties, weddings and funerals.
Such an insight into the lives of long-gone relatives!
Thank you Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero for accepting my creative non-fiction piece, “Aunt Becker’s Secret” for this unique anthology.
I am looking forward to seeing the finished book, and also reading the stories other writers have discovered in their family attics.
How to buy the book? Information here http://www.hiddentimberbooks.com/family-stories-attic/