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Poem: Family Suite

Books & Poetry

Inspired by family memories, this week’s Poet’s Corner contribution comes from Claire-Louise Watson of Murray Bridge.

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Family Suite

I. The eternal optimist

Clouds tended to mope above our suburb,
and refused to budge on dull, autumn days.
Mum and Dad would lead us to the car
to begin the strange quest of chasing the sun.

Sometimes we found him hiding in a playground,
reflecting off puddles and warming the swing set.
Other days we roamed as far as the sea shore
where he glimmered among the shallow rock pools.

Although I have travelled so far from my childhood
I still pursue this daily quest for brightness:
searching for hope in the bleakest of evenings,
turning over stones to catch a glimpse of light.

II. Addition by subdivision

My father knew houses like some men know cars.
Names rolled off his tongue as we walked the streets:
Spanish mission, art deco, Californian bungalow.
Long before GPS he guided me through his city,
continually updating the grid imprinted on his mind.
On the weekends he led us right to the fringes
where suburbia nibbled at the long-suffering bush.
At the centrepiece of each estate, a created lake
was set like a cubic zirconia among swirling streets.
Curved stone entrances swept the visitors inwards
to houses jammed as close as pencils in a box.
Here he surveyed the glossy fruit of his labours:
the unseen foundations, the massive paper slabs
he worked on each day in the Planning Department,
to build an inheritance for other parents’ children.

III. Vintage beauty

My Nanna painted armies of gum trees,
clothed in the drab and tranquil greens
of the harsh and enticing Australian bush.
Blue, chalky hills crumbled in the distance
beneath the wide and unrelenting sky.
Monotony was broken by a ruined shed
with a battered roof of corrugated iron,
and three walls framing the distant past.
Her gnarled fingers now rest on the bed
faded and twisted as those enduring gums.
She paints her memories on the blank walls;
wakes each morning to foreign landscapes.
Her abiding presence, like the stalwart barns
testifies to the wondrous beauty of decay.

Claire-Louise Grace Watson is a Salvation Army Officer who lives in Murray Bridge where she shares life and ministry with her husband Tim and their two sons. A former physiotherapist, she and Tim have also been posted to Salvation Army corps in Western Australia and Tasmania. Her memoir, “Fingerprints of Grace”, was published by Salvo Publishing in 2017 and is available at Koorong stores online. More about Claire and her book can also be found here and here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to poetscorner@solsticemedia.com.au. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

 

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