From my Memory’s Treasure

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tears roll
as pearls spilled
from a string—
an indigo sky
flashed with lightning

well-rounded vowels
of alto melody
ascending—
swaddled in a shawl
of homemade lullabies

silver-topped
milk bottles dotted
with dew—
winter breakfasts
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—
morning hymns
on the wireless

Julie Thorndyke

A Stir of the Pudding

baubles

A String of Christmas Memories by the Tanka Huddle  2017

granny and me
stirring dried fruits
and brandy . . .
one nip for gran
one for the pud
          Marilyn Humbert

at the mall
for photos with santa—
I yearn
for a star-filled night
and choirs of angels
          Jan Foster

it’s forty degrees
and mum’s had enough
christmas
crackers snap
around the table
          Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti

christmas
meant rum and plum cake
childhood memory
of our annual trip
to Cochin bakery
          Rugmini Venkatraman

christmas eve
we toss and turn
quiet . . .
mum fills the stockings
we pretend to sleep
          Karen Lieversz

reindeer puppets
pranced on polystyrene snow
but the tug
on my heart-strings
was absolutely real
          Julie Thorndyke

green icing
on the christmas cake
and a frill
make all the difference—
mum comes home this year
          Laura Davis

sunshine and sleigh bells
holly and magpie song
carols under stars
the customs learned in childhood
swim united in my mind
          Beverley George

broken nails
and roughened hands
massaged
by the sweet balm
of a christmas-ready house
          Anne Benjamin

three-penny
and six-penny pieces
stored all year
polished up in time for us
to polish up the pud
          Carmel Summers

[Copyright of each individual tanka remains with the poets.]

Pansy and the Christmas Tree

CP with angel

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.

Pansy and the C T

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.

cow.png

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.

CP anthologies

Hands

hands

My father’s hands were strong and silent
capable, restless, methodical, worn.
Missing the tip of a digit or two;
able to mend shoes, carve the weekend roast,
mow lawns, grow vegetables
give out hymn books, shake hands after church,
make piles of the collection-plate coins
lay carpet, fix the car, drive to music lessons
make a new key to wind up my toy train.

His hands could claim me if the surf were too wild;
were strong to carry this broken-legged child
put metho on mozzie bites, dab soap on my nose
clap hands for the babies, and cheer when they smiled.

In this noisy shouting world with strident voices cluttered
hear the quiet words of love my father’s hands have uttered.

© Julie Thorndyke