wings and things

My mother is a poem

My mother, Meg, is 82 and the age itself conjures images of white hair, stooped posture, decrepitude, and yet she defies all of this with her beautiful, generous presence in so many of our lives. She battles deafness, combats macular degeneration of the eyes, and has overcome breast cancer, multiple broken bones, grief and trauma, with the most incredible resilience I have ever seen in another human being.

Not only that, Meg is always willing to listen – even to criticism. She does listening better than anyone I know and her support of her three children, eleven grandchildren, and the so-far four great-grandchildren, is solid and unwavering.

Sometimes she and I get a bit impatient with each other because, even though we are so mutually attuned, we are very different. Meg is impetuous, fast and good at multi-tasking whereas I am cautious, ponderous and sometimes timid. Nevertheless, we share the same heart; we miss the same person (my dad who died so young); and we want the very best for the whole ever-extending family.

Below is my mother’s poem about death:


Her hand,

a strong but ageing hand,

slipped momentarily through

a curtain made of gossamer,

took hold

of both of mine,

and pulled me through.

Her smile a twinkle

and her voice like

ripples in a stream.

“Come, meet my son.

He’s waiting over there.”

And, arm in arm,

we moved

to His embrace.

My mother, Meg, is 82 and the age itself can often lead to intermittent thoughts and wonderings about death. This poem dispels the fear of death and, for me, breaks through the discomfort of talking about death.

My mother is a poem. We all are.







The littlest peachick

Yesterday morning, just outside the back door, you took bread from my hand for the first time,
even though you are the littlest peachick.
Surrounded by your peacock father and his brothers, surrounded by your peahen mother and her sisters,’
you raced all of them and won each piece of bread I tossed onto the ground,
even though you are the littlest peachick.

Your big sister didn’t stand a chance and you gobbled all of her bread bits until I gently brushed you aside,
littlest peachick.

This morning, just outside the back door, I saw you again, but this time you were all alone.
I thought you were a pile of leaves blown together by the wind,
until I saw your little legs pointing upwards like the bare, autumn branches of a bonsai.
I went outside and approached you cautiously, not wanting to see what I already saw, that you were very dead,
my littlest peachick.

Your mother, big sister, and all of the others, came over very quietly to look at your dead body.
Then, just as quietly, they all stepped back, turned around and went away,
my littlest peachick.


This morning, the farm is strangely silent. Your family, usually so noisy and boisterous, has withdrawn from the vicinity of your death.
Out in the paddock, they nibble halfheartedly at the grass, looking up and around frequently, as if sensing danger, bewildered, as I am,
at your mysterious death,
our littlest peachick.

I see you now, from the corner of my heart’s eye,
high up in a tree that is so beautiful that it has no name.
You are no longer little; you are huge and your rainbow wings span the sky as you fly in and through the marshmallow clouds
of where you are now.

The littlest peachick.



The following poem was written by my mother, Meg, before any of us knew the outcome of Ming’s court hearing on Monday. I thought she’d written it for Ming and that he was the gymnast, then I thought it might be for me because my hope was faltering; then I thought it might be for Anthony whose mobility is deteriorating; then I thought it might be for the various family members who have been affected by the car accident; then I thought it might be for all of us – everyone….

I now think Meg’s poem was all of those things, but it was mainly for our big, loud, dancing Ming!

Focus. Meg. April 14, 2014

A gymnast
On the balance board
Looks steadfastly
Towards that spot
Far in the distance
And his body
Perfectly in tune
Glides smoothly forward
Step by step

The tiniest distraction
Left or right
Behind ahead
Above beneath
He falls

Resolves next time he mounts the board
To fix his eyes
On One who beckons.

The board seems now so wide and safe
His toes spread out
His balance now regained
A joyful happy jig.
The tightrope turned into a dance floor

Thank you, Mother.


PS. I think I need to get a new photo of Ming dancing because I am quite sure I have posted this one before; I also need to throw those obscene green shorts (that I bought Anthony for a joke over 20 years ago) in the trash. Why Ming insists on wearing them constantly is beyond my comprehension!


Underneath: a poem to Anthony

Underneath the black and white tiled linoleum in the kitchen are the original tiles.
We couldn’t rip them out because of the asbestos, so we just covered them over.
The ridiculously expensive lino almost immediately developed little holes
from my high heels, your bentwood chairs and, more recently, the stab of your walking stick.
Do you remember how I invited the manufacturer’s assistant out here to get a discount on that lino, how he told me to stop wearing heels, how I told him where to go? We got the discount on the basis of a faulty product and you were proud of me for fighting for this.

Underneath the canopy of your thick eyebrows (when did they get so thick?) your eyes only twinkle occasionally now and sometimes I can’t get even get your lips to move into a smile, no matter how hard I try with my jostling words, silly antics, tear-restrained hugs.

Underneath the muteness of your nursing home bed, I lie on a soft carpet of imagination in the hope that you will have a good night’s sleep in which you forget that I am not there with you. And, while I am on this soft carpet, I will try my hardest to erase your fear of losing me because that will never happen.

Underneath the ugliness of this disease, I see the beauty of who you are, and always have been – a big caterpillar, bypassing all of the butterflies, and becoming a vivid part of the sky.

ps. So glad our son, Ming, no longer reads my blog; he would vomit -ha! Actually, if I read this to Anthony, he probably would too, so I guess this is just for myself and the blog.



I found some old socks –
the football socks you once wore
to get the cows in.

Your favourite socks!
But you never played football –
you just liked to run….

I put your socks on
and now I will go to bed
With you warming me.


A haiku-ish poem

These small fingernails
Whisper up and down the spine
Of an opened book

Are you rose or weed?
Or are you an applecore
Filled with arsenic?

I don’t do poems
I can’t seem to write poems
This is a poem

Yesterday is grey
And tomorrow is today
There is a blue wind

A baby crying
The howl of a wolfling
Until the huge smile

The grass seems greener
Just outside my sunglasses
And a glass of red

Peachick near my heart,
Son away for his birthday,
Husband not here now

There are a few hells
And ours is extremely small –
A rotten peanut

Why? is a mute word
Are my sunflowers growing yet?
I didn’t plant them

A string of haiku
All of the syllables perfect
Full of emptiness

Until the storm blows
A big hole in the window
And now I can breathe

We have wings of steel
Lost and found in the debris
Of a blossom rain.


Sick of love

I wrote this dreadful poem last night with the above title, but I didn’t post it because it was too bleak. This morning I looked at it again and agreed with myself that it was too bleak. I would like to be able to say it was absolutely brilliant but, in fact, it was so dismal that I trashed it. Good riddance.

The poem was about becoming sick and tired of love – of loving and of being loved – the heavy weight of it, an anagram of vole which is I think is a kind of rodent.

When I first met my husband I was sick with love, a buzzy, hopeful, exciting love. It worked, we worked, we were happy.

Today, when I visited him in the nursing lodge, he was sad and said, when I had to leave to pick Ming up, “You don’t want to be with me anymore.” I didn’t get angry or broken-hearted and I couldn’t even muster the empathy to reassure him adequately, so had to ring again and again this afternoon to reassure him.

I guess it’s just a phase but the weight of his love for me is too much at the moment and my love for him seems to need a holiday.

This afternoon, in the midst of a storm, we lost electricity for a few hours so I went through the archives of my computer to do a cull and found a letter that I had written to Anthony’s doctor and neurologist nearly ten years ago, outlining his symptoms, asking if his medication could be increased, wondering what the future held. I never sent this letter because I was too emotional at the time so I must have kept it for myself just for the record. It shocked me to realize how long since his Parkinson’s was diagnosed and I am still finding it difficult to believe it has been nearly a decade. Hell, Ming was only a little boy back then.

This is not at all a self-pitying post even if it seems that way; I guess it’s just a recognition that sometimes love can be way too heavy. I’m not sure.


Butterfly haiku

The utterfly looks

for the B that will heal it

under the grey rocks.

The utterfly has

enormously big nostrils,

like big purple eyes.

The utterfly finds

its missing B in the hug

of an old, old man.

The utterfly finds

its missing B in the smile

of a young, young man.

The utterfly speaks,

sheds its mothy shabbiness,

enfolds its own B …

And becomes a butterfly.


Pathetic poetry

Today is in the dustpan

except for what we planned.

The visitors brought some sweet delights

and I stopped Godfrey’s angry bites

The taxi driver picked Ants up.

but saw my tears and asked ‘what’s up?’

I told him of our history

and he extended his hand towards me.

The days are getting bittersweet

and breathing sometimes seems a feat.

The happy cancels out the sad,

the sadness cancels out the glad.

If I were to go way back in time

I’d find a more specific rhyme.

My heart is torn away from me

and I just want to be left to be….

a bee

on a flower

in the sunshine

or else a perfect syllable.



Son haiku

You’re a total brat,

but you have your angel side.

I love you too much.

Unreliability haiku

I didn’t turn up.

“And why am I not surprised?”

my friend says to me.

Hearty haiku

Edges of my heart

are broken, frayed and scabby

I don’t pick the scabs.

Joyful haiku

I watch all the birds,

and the rain blurs my vision,

but they fly freely.

Flower haiku

The roses suffer.

The camellias grow huge.

I want sunflowers.

Friendship haiku

I am a good friend

to those who forgive me all.

Those people have wings.

Blogging haiku

The blog world is weird

and magically scented.

Unexpected bliss.

Husband haiku

You were once my world

and now this world has collapsed.

Parkinson’s disease.