frail care

by Lise Day

As I kiss my mother
I try to step away,
leave her angry words
puddled on the floor
discarded, as an ill-fitting frock.
But, I discover underneath,
a corset of hurt so tightly bound,
that it is difficult to breathe –
and I cannot reach behind
to undo the restricting hooks.

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Fragments from a Cottage by the Sea

by Annette Snyckers

1.

Suspended from the roof beams
in the children’s bedroom,
hangs a fairy made of felt and feathers,
a remnant of halcyon holidays long past.
With the house closed up,
the fairy flies through dark days,
her bell’s a little rusted.
Every time I come, I dust her off.
She scares the little ones now.
Neither do they like
the sea horse on the curtains.

2.

There in the basin
I bathed you both
as new-born babies.
I remember how
your tiny, big-bellied bodies
bobbed in the familiar warmth,
how your mute eyes spoke
midnight blue messages,
holding tight to my gaze.

3.

In a cupboard in the cellar,
invaded by more than mould,
is a box of fishing tackle all a-jumble,
twisted hooks and sinkers, trapped memories
of night-fishing expeditions
by the young boys of this house.
Late the lamp returned over the dune,
brought into the kitchen
where, by its steady light,
they slaughtered and consumed
the freshly baked bread .

4.

Digging in a drawer
for thumb tacks and the scissors,
I find puzzle pieces, shells,
self-made cards for Christmas,
drawings of bunnies with long ears,
a witch upon her broom.
On the first morning of the new millennium,
you both climbed into bed with me.
Outside the sea lay silver
so we pretended it was a ship –

all of us so unprepared
for the rough passage ahead.

Tourist Attraction

by Cornelia Rohde

A brazen face shouts, “Five chickens.”
Another raises him to ten.
A third ups the ante with “Six camels;”
zoos of dowry offered
for my auburn haired daughter,
as if I’m leading her as calf to slaughter.

The young hotel clerk melts
when she asks him directions.
(I think he just kissed her room key.)
He seems to have twenty-four hour duty,
or else he’s hanging around for her beauty.

The souk teems with moony young louts,
who offer to show us about, find the best deals,
bring us home to their mother for tea.
We run the gauntlet seeking some refuge.
Will the Blue Mosque be a safe place to flee?

We swirl through the sights like dervishes,
except we’re the major tourist attraction.
I’m so desperate I think I may sell her,
to be done with annoying distractions.

Her flight departs a day before mine.
I wave a cheerful farewell. The staff weeps
by my side, crushed that she’s leaving.
I feel like kicking my heels and leaping,
as I slip back into my invisible skin.

Woman on the roof

by Pam Newham

She’s up on the roof again,
sitting with her back against the chimney.
On the ground her children look up.
Clutching their children they cry,
“Come down. It’s not safe up there. Come down.
It’s us, mom, it’s us.”
(Oh, as if she does not know)
Sometimes she flutters her fingers at them.
Other times she turns her head away.
If they keep calling, she sighs
and climbs down the ladder
or simply jumps and floats to the ground.
Then she smiles into their anxious eyes
and pats their children’s cheeks.
When they ask, “Why do you go up there?”
she says, “I like the view”
or “It helps me think”
or “The air is clearer there.”
But she knows
(Oh, how she knows)
what it is they really fear.
That the day will come when
no matter how they call
no matter how they cry
she will never come down from there.

Hands

Hands by Angela Prew

I used to be proud
of my hands,
long fingers tapering,
unbitten nails.
I wore rings.
Never a jewellery girl
but I wore rings.

These hands sewed
clothes for my children,
curtains and covers.
They baked bread, cakes,
cooked a million meals.
They dug and planted,
laundered clothes and sheets
week after week
but they never showed wear.
Proudly I wore rings.

Now the skin is wrinkled,
jewelled with age spots,
stitched with veins.
My daughters wear the rings
but I am still
proud of these hands.

Bruising

Bruising by Lise Day

Pale Jacaranda blossoms
fragile mauve
blooms as bruises
on papery skin thin
aged barely able
to contain the skeletal
form within

Purple archways free
the memories clinging
as petals to the tree
youthful then in mind
and limb now crumpled
desperate to hold
to the stem

I wade ankle deep
through the slippery
violet sea
uncertain where to find
the essential self
of what used to be
my Mother