Tuesday Poem – Staunch

My grandmother
wore a cotton dress
winter through summer
didn’t feel  the cold
never stopped
in her life on a back country farm.
Took her sick child to hospital
returned to do the chores.
Never saw her darling again
except as a photograph
which gazed out
across future living rooms
from its corner altar.

A golden girl
her arms around a pet lamb
her eyes calm.
No wonder when Gran lay dying 
and the doctor said
‘How are you today Mrs Hunt?’
I heard her reply
‘Very well thank you Doctor.’

(c) Helen McKinlay

I wrote this small poem a decade ago.  When I was twelve my mum and I went from Wellington to Auckland on the overnight express.  We were to spend a week with my gran. We didn’t see her very often, so it was special. My uncle met us at the station and told us she was dying. All I remember of that morning is being glued to the crack in the door, thinking that if I said enough prayers she would be all right.  I also remember the doctor, asking her the exact question ‘How are you today Mrs Hunt?’ and her reply …the last line of my poem.  She died an hour or two later. The golden girl in question was my aunt who died of meningitis aged nine. Grandma Hunt was an amazing person…a real pioneering spirit who sold eggs to help put my mum through university.

If the first lines looks familiar it’s because I have been playing around with several poems and this is one of them.  Letting Go was another. See here

Do return to Tuesday Poem where this week’s editor is Catherine Bateson.

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – Staunch

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