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.
on this wet stave, our uncoordinated
footsteps strum a pattern of blues notes,
syncopated with raindrops, tuned
to the drip, drip, drip of water down our open
collared, dressed-in-a-hurry outfits;
counterpointed by your persistent kisses, my
slippery, hand-grasping fingers, reaching for
that dry-skin warmth of recent memory
for that under-the-doona closeness, left just
minutes ago for this dash out into the real
horn-honking, bus door-slamming, policeman-
shouting, busker-singing, ice-cream-buying public;
where the curled cord that connected us
to the thrumming power surge of love
is invisible, too short, unviable, and threatens
with sharp sparks to short-circuit as we
stand in a soggy line for raspberry gelato
and the only way to save our song
from certain extinction is to run
red-lipped back through the rain
fumble with the door key, slide
laughing over puddled floors
and dive back into
our final coda
© Julie Thorndyke