i could be Mother
Christmas i could slide easing
down your chimney be your pleasant
present dropping on your hearth gift-
wrapped to your order in my sad sack and
ashes and You'd only think You'd
barely got your own back
i could crouch in my box You'd
scratch at my windows and i'd close
the curtains i'd phone out for life
and You'd come as
the van-man plumbers gasman police
ambulance all badges and your fists
and if the door didn't
open You'd be sure
i still wasn't small enough
Well I could ride a new broom
through the night streets
mash a toad in your mailbox
put a pox on your willy
take a hard fingernail and carve
on your door Mind
and cutting me down
and boxing me in
and cutting me up
would still be your business
from Aileen Kelly, The Passion Paintings, Poems 1983 - 2006, John Leonard Press, 2006.
Editor: Catherine Bateson
Aileen Kelly was born in England and graduated from Cambridge. She has lived in Melbourne since 1962 where she has worked as an adult educator. Her first collection, Coming Up for Light, 1994, won the Mary Gilmore Award for best Australian first book of poetry and was shortlisted for both the Anne Elder and Victorian Premier's awards.
I've posted about Aileen Kelly's work and my personal and professional friendship with Aileen before on my own blog, so I won't repeat what I wrote there. I do want to say that I believe Aileen Kelly to be an excellent poet whose work has sadly been under-valued in Australia. I have some theories about this, but I'm more interested in hearing what people think of this poem.
What I love: the rhythms of the poem which create the dialogue between the speaker and the silent 'You', the ambiguity of the 'You' to whom the poem is addressed, the pungent vernacular and the tension this creates with the poem's content. There's nothing predictable about this poem. Over to you - what do you think?
This week's editor Catherine Bateson is a poet and children's writer who lives in the hills outside Melbourne. You can find more information about her on her webpage.
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