Margaret Ann Turner (née Kelly)

Margaret Ann Turner (née Kelly)

Make do and Mend

My father and I walk inside
The old house
Atop her hill.
Our usual pilgirimage,
Through my young years
And his.

To the house of his upbringing
In the garden,
Where he played
With tin soldiers,
In the stramash
Of the battles of his mind.

Through the blacked-out hall,
I see the pictures;
My grandma’s relations,
Arranged in a sequence.
Signposts of our growth
Into adulthood.

Myself and my cousins,
The nuptuals of my parents,
Her mother, there, standing
In the garden of her cottage.

Our task, to pack away
The chattels of her life,
To gather together,
Piece by piece,
Each day of affluence
And others of austerity
When war was reality
And uncertainty fell with the shells.

In those days, it was
‘Make do and mend,’
The crest on the chest
Of each woman.
On our day, it is
Our test
To rummage the boxes,
To put a price on her things.

What do we know of
Fraying garments
And gadgets tied up with string?
Cracked pots, stuck
With glue and initials
Carved on the base.

Nowadays, I know
The artistry in innovation,
That she buried, at times,
Behind skinflint eyes.

The hand-me-down presents
She gave us,
With wrinkled benevolence
And my mother affronted again.

Maybe we don’t see the
Wealth in the sacrifice
And things that, to us,
Are without worth or virtue;
That we can’t use
In our house of new things.
The modern age
That is, perhaps, less authentic,
Without gusto,
Or soul.

Now her soul is broken,
Enshrined behind the
Nursing-home door
And the words of her stories
Don’t roll off the tongue.

On this day, I want
To hear the words of
Those stories;
The chatter of the children
We were and the tinkle
Of Christmas dinner plates
In the sink.

All I hear is the echo
Of hopelessness,
I did not use,
I did not ultimately mend.

(c) Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, 2014

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