When Velvet Soap Did Cleanse It All - Poem by Phil Charters
Willow trees, caress the summers sky,
fragmented; days of childhood,
long since passed on by.
Down thirty years, memories drift:
melancholic mood, a mind does sift;
through times when siblings numbered four;
the house we lived, of fragile wall;
always the willows standing tall.
Elder sister, then, was admiral of the fleet.
siblings sailed those willows,
through summers heat.
Fantasy the realm of childhood mind,
contentment, the siblings, each country
day did find.
When the laundry was a washouse;
no sink of stainless steel,
a soul of forty years, family history,
now does feel.
A washing trough of concrete, four children
playing at Mums feet: a copper stick: -
‘oh yes! ' an ancient copper, our clothes to wash,
a wood-fired stove, on which to cook. ‘gosh! '
I Hear the cynics laugh: -
"Boil the water, to take a bath! "
How quaint it now does seem; recall the days,
a happy scene: a memory; a headland;
for ones mind to rest: - a morning tea: -
one brother, two sisters, Jack, Dad and me.
Sticky strips, from ceilings hung.
A bird or two, caught among, flies and insects,
that died there, when velvet soap did wash our hair.
Our clothes, our dishes, every cleansing chore;
even the little mouth that swore
Rock the house, on a windy night.
Bedded siblings, set to fright.
Outside toilet, natures needs, desperate to curtail;
younger brother, always seemed to fail.
Elder brother, bike of second hand;
down the track, he looked so grand.
Time to stop, ‘his missed his cue, '
across the road, the hedge his through.
Badlands there; owners wild, elder brother,
his land defiled.
Grab the bike, quickly run,
safely back on home with mum.
By the woodpile, beside a shed, upon a rack,
younger sister bled.
Throwing stones, brothers set to fear;
younger sister, burst to tear.
Runs to mum; a visitor; memory fades;
I know not now, just who:
surely saved the brothers, two.
Bull from paddock, takes to flight,
bedded siblings, once more to fright.
Dad outside, the bull does chase;
night does pass, his family safe.
Learn of god, on a Sunday morn.
Lunch at Nanas, then the norm.
Dad and Granddad, at darts they'd play;
careful siblings, not in the way.
Image dimmed, not by time.
Burned forever, inside ones mind.
lives eternal, do entwine.
Short of pennies, doomed to fate;
around the table, food we ate;
provided by a fathers toil;
hard his hands, stained by soil.
Long each day, we were apart;
once at home, gentle, was his heart.
Closer now, the town had moved.
Upon a handshake, loan approved.
Left the willows standing tall,
goodbye the house of fragile wall.
Walls of brick, house brand new;
one more year, family grew.
Family was to grow once more;
short of ten, siblings, now did number four.
And so to progress, the old house fell.
Willows to, they did succumb;
we watched it all, we stood with mum.
Elder sister, began to cry,
beneath the suburbs memories lie.
Safely nurtured, siblings four;
when velvet soap, did cleanse it all.
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