For my mother
Tasmania was mine, mmm, I loved it. The many colours, many landscapes, the movement of the seasons. The deep blue mountains, the bright meandering streams. Silver and golden streams, water and sunlight. Sunlight streaming on my wide back lawn, which spread like a meadow. Shimmering grass and shimmering sky. Fresh springtime mornings, their frosts diminishing, becoming dew. Summer full of bees, their peaceful hum. Me on my own, mooning through summer days, meandering round my meadow, humming too.
Winter mists hiding the valleys, climbing the hills, almost veiling the mountains, draping my familiar town in mystery, magic. Then melting gradually, by midday gone, the gleaming town new-minted.
Murky rain, black mud; myself muffled in overcoat, cap and mittens. Gumboots to mid-calf. Squelch, squelch, I am the master of all this mud! Hurrying home to the warm, the welcoming mother. Tomato soup beside the fire. My clothes hugging me warm: soft socks and cosy jumper. Hugging myself with my happy arms.
The taste of tomato soup and mushy brown bread. The taste of comfort, home. The flavour of a warm room, safe from the frosts and marauding storms. Summer tastes were fruit – gooseberries, raspberries, nectarines, damson plums... The purplest of plums, dark purple, thick with juice. Messy all over my cheeks, staining my hair, covering my hands to the wrists. My rich purple lips, my inky tongue. Mum amazed, aghast at so much mess. Oh miraculous messy damson plums! Welcome back to my memory, dreamtime summer fruit.
My summer stretched to encompass all the autumn. Mellow harvest moons, huge and golden, mimicked the sun. The sky smiled, the cosmos smiled on me.
'Come home!' the island calls me now. 'You are my child. Come home, come back, you are mine.'
First draft written 1987; final version 1990.
Published in Secret Leopard (Paris, Alyscamps Press 2005)
An old poem for the new Writers' Pantry #1 at Poets and Storytellers United. It seems particularly fitting, as we now include prose or poetry – and this is a prose-poem.
Although the Pantry isn't prompted, i.e. we can write on any topic, this time its host, Magaly, touched on what constitutes home and I was reminded of this piece about my childhood home. Like the rest of Australia, it's burning, so I recall all the more poignantly what it was to me.