Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Poetry Bus Rolls on.

This week we were asked to write about a relative - and I have chosen my Aunt Nell, dead for many years now but a constant presence in my childhood.

Ellen Louise.


Her dour presence
peppered my childhood;
I shared her name, yet
never seemed to share
her love. No, my share
went to my brother -
she loved him as her own.

I see her long hands,
thin and neatly nailed.
Her shoes were finest kid
as were her gloves;
the ring, she always wore,
the coat of soft fur
I loved to stroke.

When she died
we found her treasure box
under her lonely bed.
In it - a diamond ring
still glittering bright,
some poetry books, gilt-edged
and finest leather,
a faded, sepia rose
pressed to tissue,
a letter - too heart-rending
to read.

All that remained
from a love affair
cut short by war.

25 comments:

jinksy said...

My Auntie Nell was really Dorothy Ellen, but nobody ever called her by her real name. She was my 'best friend' when I was little,having all the patience that my Mum lacked! :)

Jenn Jilks said...

Nicely done! I haven't been keeping up on my poetry. Too many volunteer activities!!!!

maggi said...

You have really brought her back to life in this poem.

Reader Wil said...

Well done, Weaver! There must have been a hidden story in that treasure box of hers.

Dominic Rivron said...

I never knew Aunt Nell, but I feel I do, a little, now.

Marianne Moore's poems -which I mentioned earlier- are online here.

Argent said...

Beautifully measured. I've got a really strong image of what sounds like a rather elegant and remote (to you at least) lady and then we turn over the coin and there is such a sad tale behind it.

Titus said...

Yes, beautiful Weaver.
I love the way you have conjured a woman of a certain time and class for me, and show the reader the distinction between her external and internal lives. I like the distance you maintain throughout, your child's perception, and that so sad final stanza.
Bit mixed up there, but you get the drift!

Granny Sue said...

Your Aunt Nell could be my aunt. Her sour ways hid her secret long-term love affair with a married man. What heartbreak to know that he never meant to leave his wife at all as he promised.

Poor Aunt Nell. What sadness in her treasure box.

willow said...

Wonderful piece, Weaver. This reminds me so much of my dear Aunt Winnie, actually great-aunt, who never married.

Niamh B said...

It's always kind of amazing and touching when people hold on to those they loved long after they're gone - this is really poignant, great poem!

the watercats said...

this is such a sad, soft poem, the lives we imagine people have are really so different from reality, their heads and hearts revealed only after death... just beautifully written..

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

A very particular portrait, beautifully written. The lives of many women of that era could be an enigma to a child's eyes. Lives dictated by loss, social mores or pursuit of a career, which couldn't allow for domestic bliss.

Peter Goulding said...

Why not to judge a person until you know her own story...
However, still a bit mean to favour one child over his sibling...

Jane Moxey said...

What a very evocative poem, Weaver! You pulled me right into the "story."

Heather said...

Such a sad but lovely poem Pat. Ellen is a family name for me too - my mother and her mother were both Ellens. Two of my great aunts never married having lost their fiances to the First World War. So much sadness and so much waste. I'm afraid I have fallen by the wayside again this week and not contributed to the Poetry Bus - maybe my brain will click into action for next week.

Domestic Oub said...

Oh, my bottom lip quivered at the end of this! Sad but lovely poem.

crazyfieldmouse said...

beautiful and poignant
thanks for sharing
cfm

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry she liked your brother better.
What a sad love story
sort of reminds me, oddly, of the Faulkner short story 'A rose for Emily'.
You are the mistress of compact expression
minimum words/maximum impact
as my old poetry teacher used to say.
ps I'm back from Philly and coming to the UK next week

Lyn said...

Such a real, human story. You conveyed so much in this lovely poem..thanks

Karen said...

It's difficult being a child who is not the one loved. I think you captured your dour aunt and perhaps the reasons behind the dourness.

Pondside said...

What a tenderly written poem.

Denise Burden said...

What a sad, sad poem but beautifully written. It captures perfectly that feeling of "if only...".

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the comments - I had not thought of it but I suppose in a way I have brought her back to life. There were countless women in the same position in her generation as your comments show. Thanks again.

Eryl Shields said...

What a portrait: fabulous.

BT said...

What a super poem about your Aunt Nell. Very poignant too - especially the little treasure box and that letter. So sad.