Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Do you remember? (TFE's Poetry Challenge)

Do you remember
about chilblains
and chapped knees
and hot-aches
in your hands?

When ice-crystals formed
on the inside
of the bedroom window
and the cold tap
had to be thawed out
before it ran?

Do you remember
sitting so close
to the fire
that your legs
went red and mottled
like a turkey's dewlap,
But your back was still
freezing cold?

When the lights on the
Christmas tree
were real candles
and smelt strongly of
burning wax - and posed
a real threat of fire?

Do you remember
the ice-cold bedroom,
the ice-cold sheets
and the one warm spot
in the feather bed
where the stone bottle lay,
already cooling?

When you got to know
the turkey - live and feathered
and formed a relationship, so that
when you ate it the flesh
turned to sawdust
in your mouth?

Do you remember
the chestnuts,
pushed through the bars
of the open fire and
roasted in the embers;
burnt, charred bits - but
creamy bits the likes of which
you've never tasted since?

When you were all still here and
gathered round the piano
to sing
the old favourite carols
in suspect harmony
made enjoyable by
the home-made damson wine?

Do you remember?

Switch on the twinkling lights.
Put the turkey in the oven.
Turn up the central heating.
Warm up the bottles of mulled wine
you bought in the supermarket.
Listen to Carols from Kings on the telly.
But always remember.


Dominic Rivron said...

In answer to the central question: in a word, no. I've always had it cushy. The sufferings of my generation (if they can be called sufferings) have been of a different kind.

Jinksy said...

The ice patterns on any slight condensation inside of the freezing bedroom window were very beautiful, I remember, at least to look at! Not so good to experience once you'd dared to throw back the bed covers...A very evocative set of memories here, Weaver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Dom, as you quite rightly say, each generation has its own memories - but it is good to hang on to them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jinksy - someone spoke on my blog the other day about warming a penny and putting it on the ice on the inside of the bedroom window so that she got a peep hole to outside to see what the weather was like. I never thought of doing that, did you?

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that did not have that experience... maybe not luxurious, but always had heat and comfortable surroundings... beautifully written, this piece.

NanU said...

I do, Weaver! I remember the steer we called Spaghetti, whom we thanked heartily every time we partook of his body because he was delicious.
I remember the ice-cold bedroom because it's going on right now with the heat being rather iffy in the house, and the too-small warm spot offered by the cat.
But we never had candles on the tree. In spite of that, we managed to burn the house down anyway.
And nobody ever sang. I don't know why.

Thanks for the exceptional poem, and have a happy holiday!

Dinesh chandra said...

What a great poetry, nice to read .

god bless you.


Dinesh Chandra

Heather said...

Yes, I remember and am so glad we have central heating even though the patterns made on the windows by Jack Frost were beautiful. We have become real 'softies' since those days of spartan living. Lovely Christmas poem Weaver - thankyou.

Unknown said...

Yes, Weaver, I can remember most of those things (not the tree candles or getting to know the turkey!), especially the roasted chestnuts. I always enjoyed buying them from a street vendor, hot from the brazier, when we no longer had a coal fire. And the frost patterns on the windows brings back a shiver, lovely though they were. Them were the days! Super poem. Enjoy your celebrations.

steven said...

weaver, the ice cold sheets with the one warm spot left by the hot water bottle (already cooling) is a vivid memory!!! happily that part of "times" has changed!!!! have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Granny Sue said...

Some of these I certainly remember, and the turkey? I make sure I don't form a relationship with ours!

I loved the ice forests and ferns on the windows and kind of miss that part of winter. The patterns were spectacular.

Maggi said...

Thanks for bringing back all those memories, many of which I had forgotten about. I didn't use a coin to make a peephole, just fingertips held against the pane.

Totalfeckineejit said...

I remember a lot of these fairly recently, but never candles on a tree,that must have been wonderful and I bet it kept the fire brigade busy.Great poem Weaver, thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Sal said...

I really enjoyed that!
Yes, I do remember some of those things...especially having no central heating and the ice cold bedroom!

BT said...

What a super poem Weaver, well done. I remember a lot of it, though no candles on the tree, we always had lights, as long as I can remember! My father did once kill one of our own ducks for Christmas and none of us could eat it. We went on so much about 'daisy' that even my Dad couldn't bring himself to eat it!! lol. Good memories, except the cold. I never liked that.

Titus said...

Yes, a lot of it Weaver, but so beautifully captured in your words here. It is a thought-provoking piece that is not sentimental or nostalgic, and that is rare indeed. Really good.

Hildred said...

A lovely poem Weaver, full of treasured memories and the reminder that the river of life flows on and the places and people that were familiar and dear to us lived in a very different atmosphere.

Our very best wishes for your happiness at Christmas, and a merry day for both you and The Farmer.

Cloudia said...

Thank you for letting me taste a world that I know not of - as you often do, dear Weaver.

Aloha, Friend!
Happy Holidays

Comfort Spiral

Leilani Schuck Weatherington said...

Re your post yesterday: Public television did a series where they made a modern family live in a Victorian house as though it were Victorian times. They were mostly miserable. Whew. Quite an eye-opener. Re today's poem: I grew up in Los Angeles where they aren't sure what to do when it gets below 60 degrees(ha!)So to answer the questions "NO!"

Golden West said...

Merry Christmas to you, Weaver and your loved ones. Your writing has been a gift the entire year.

Pat Posner said...

We still get ice on the inside of our windows, Weaver! OK, not as much as in the 'old' days, but it's there.
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year
xxPat, T&T

Anonymous said...

No I can't remember such a cold Christmas season Weaver, but I do remember some stinking hot Australian ones - so love reading about something so different.Having just returned from our Australian alpine regions this summer and loving it, everybody keeps remarking, "but imagine how COLD it would be at other times of the year!" - your poem invokes that coldness beautifully.In a cabin we stayed in,at tiny Bogong Village we were told the few residents of the village rushed to huddle around the oven in that particular cabin whenever there were power failures, it being the only one with gas cylinders for cooking/heat.I'm sure they had warm fronts and cold backs and mottled skin too!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely, lovely words as always!
But thankfully, I don't remember a lot of this!!

Becca McCallum said...

Cold sheets and hot water bottle spots are not a thing of the past!

I sleep in the attic of our house (1940s, not very well insulated) and I need two hot water bottles to make going to bed bearable. My nose is always freezing as it's the only part of me that pokes out from beneath the eiderdown. Getting up in the morning is substantially more difficult in winter than in summer...

I have two clay 'pigs', but they are decoration only now, although recently they've been pressed into service as hot-water bottles for our chickens.

Lovely poetry, very real, and nicely juxtaposed with the blandness of a modern day christmas.