memoir: an impressionistic voyage around my aunt

Today’s poetic offering comes straight from the heart. It’s an excerpt from my ongoing part poetry and part prose memoir writing. I’m sharing an impressionistic voyage around my Aunt, trying to capture an essence of who she was.

Aunt Madge was quite a character, and I haven’t depicted more than a fleeting impression of her here. I vividly remember coming across my Aunt in the subway of our main shopping precinct decades ago.

From a distance she looked like a mysterious Russian spy to me, with her sumptuous real fur coat (considered acceptable then) and matching hat, darkened glasses, stooped frame and patterned cane. But on seeing me, she swiftly reverted to being my beloved Aunt again.

My Mother’s elder sister, a Mathematics teacher by profession, she lived and taught locally and always had time for children, though she remained childless herself. Madge devoured books as if they were going out of fashion. She always had a ready, somewhat conspiratorial smile, full of warmth, impish charm and love.

memoir - We shared a great love of books, especially poetry, and a desire to retreat into them at the slightest opportunity quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We shared a great love of books, especially poetry, and a desire to retreat into them at the slightest opportunity. 📚 Her home housed its own library—as in lots of shelves, books and accessibility—and I loved spending time in it. It’s where I first encountered poetry, and my love affair with it endures to this day.

Maybe it was the fact that she’d served abroad, including time in India during the Second World War, that gave her a certain aura. It certainly gave her an abiding fondness for Assam and Darjeeling tea! 😉

Most of my memories of her stem from when I was a girl. I was in awe of this magnificent woman who seemed to have come straight out of the pages of a novel herself, and who introduced me to Jesus by giving me a Children’s Bible to read when I was small. ✝️

memoir - a poetry book aunt madge bought and inscribed for me (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

My Aunt

A mountainous paper stack
sat beside her cluttered chair,
just tall enough
to rest a cup of tea, and maybe
space for an ashtray in-between.

Walls were decorated
floor to ceiling with books,
and piles sat precariously,
like fidgety children,
not wanting to be overlooked.

I remember how
cigarette ash wobbled tremulously
on her open lips, resembling
a volcano about to erupt,
ready to spill its contents.

She had a hacking
cough, a real blue-lipped, watery-eyed,
red-faced, grimacing
endless stream, as if to cause
her imminent demise.

Her bent body
wracked and shuddered alarmingly,
until the ship
finally righted itself and steadied,
as each spasm sank to sea.

What I remember most
about my Aunt
is her curious, twinkling
blue-eyed smile, her infinite warmth,
her endless kindness and love.

And she helped
instil in me a passionate, enduring
love of books,
spiritual awareness and burgeoning
faith, a trust I hadn’t yet discovered
with adults anywhere else.
© joylenton

memoir - my aunt poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I hope you’ve enjoyed this slight deviation from the usual offering. Do you have any special memories of a relative who is no longer with you? Feel free to share below. I think their essence lives on in our minds and hearts, don’t you? 🙂 ❤

Relaxing into relationship

lavender relaxing PJ

There are days of summer living when heat is high and energy low and it’s all we can do to muster a clear thought.

Even in coolish UK we’ve been having a few sultry humid days where I wilt like a dry and dying flower.

This is becoming a busier family season for me too.

We spent time away at our son’s home recently and they’re on their way to visit us soon.

Being with family and friends is a precious gift indeed. And one I value more with every passing year.

It’s a time to take a pause from deep pondering and begin relaxing into relationship instead.

There’ll be slow days, a BBQ or two, a celebration meal out for the adults, and moments to make memories with my toddler grandson.

And there’ll be a bit of a gap on the blog because I anticipate being too weary for words for a while, unless God gifts some to me.

But I don’t know if that will happen in a few days or a week or so.

Much depends on my body’s ability to recover and recoup after expending more energy than usual.

Living with M.E is a see-saw ride where we creep backwards and inch forward.. (as I write about here).

It’s a balance of alternating periods and days of activity with adequate pacing and rest to avoid burnout or relapse.

So this week’s offering is small as we prepare for family to arrive.

Just a couple of little haiku poems for you to enjoy as I wind down my laptop and unwind my mind.

Until God suggests otherwise, I’ll be resting my pen and relaxing into closer relationship with Him for a while.

Aiming to enjoy some necessary down-time for soul refreshment and spiritual whitespace.

Meanwhile, you are very welcome to dip into the archives here or over at my Words of Joy site.

May you enjoy rest and relaxation into relationship too in the days ahead. Looking forward to catching up with you soon!

Blessings and love, Joy 🙂 ❤

blotting paper haiku PJ

tucked into haiku PJ pin

New arrival

Like most families, we are excited to welcome a new arrival. Our first grandchild arrived only a couple of days ago.

And I have been inspired to pen a poem in honour of his birth.

He has already had one dedicated to him in the womb on ‘Words of Joy’.

This new life will bring total change and transformation to that of his parents.

There is serious adjustment to be made to become a family rather than a couple.

Nine months have been spent eagerly anticipating this moment.

Yet nothing  fully prepares you to meet and greet a baby into your world.

This is life of their life. Flesh of their flesh. And a unique and special person all in his own right.

Part of our family and a new member of the family of God.

Each child is created and formed in the womb by His mighty hand.

To be celebrated. Enjoyed. Loved. Nurtured and protected.

Welcome, little one! We are delighted to celebrate your safe arrival and look forward to getting to know you.

‘Arrival’

You arrive ~

with eyes screwed tight

against sound and sight

until you brave and blink

your way

into the brightness

of the light

Discerning

in the noise around

that dear, familiar sound

of voices

who have been near

accompanying you on

your journey here

For nine long months

you floated in

a darker

more enclosing space,

now limbs flex freely

within

a very different place

And arms reach out

to circle you about

with safe protection

as you snuggle close

to those who love you most

and whose lives

you share

Falling back to slumber deep

after nuzzling to be fed

you rest and sleep

growing strong inside

for all the things you’ll need

to do in days stretching

long ahead

©JoyLenton2013

#mondaymusings ~ Change

Where I’m from

Trying something new here today as I link up with the synchroblog over at sheloves.com where we share our heritage stories.

Here’s mine:

I am from..

I’m from hands made red scrubbing with Fairy soap, arms to elbow in suds, wringing, steaming, line-flapping, wind-dancing laundry blowing against my head

From mangle, squeezing out doll’s clothes, now you’ve caught your thumb, before ‘elf and safety was ever thought of or begun

I am from side-to-side dwelling, know each others’ business, doors ajar, lean over garden fences, see your neighbours’ faces and invade each others spaces

And Sunday roast in oven, larder heavy with home-made stuff,  jelly and custard, dripping on toast, sausage rolls, Christmas spiked ham, pickles and mustard

I am from roses abundant, catch petals in a jar, shake well with water, savour the smell with an “Aaah!”  From embracing cats, budgerigars, mice and rabbits and cleaning up after their dirty habits

I’m from chasing on the lawn to capture elusive dreams and butterflies, with hope, expectancy and angels floating in my eyes

I am from scratch and prickle horse-chestnut, making conkers, shaking and climbing trees whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own, though they belonged in woodland close to our home

I’m from blue smoke rising, swirling to choke breath out of a room, throw the fags, clink the glasses, toast the Queen, enjoy good times, drown our sorrows and link up for the dance of Auld Lang Syne

From Sunday afternoon snoozes, weekend outings to beach or countryside to admire the view and (hopefully) squeeze in a game or two

I’m from keep quiet at the table and sit up straight and always eat everything put on your plate

And I’m from working class and working hard from dawn to dusk, face lathered, razored, hair smoothed shiny as acorn husk

With dad’s shoes spit-polished and neatly pressed clothes, for no matter how lowly the job a man has to present well, as everyone knows

Mum’s middle class background and leanings shown in books she was reading and the superiority over what she thought or knew. And she wasn’t past pampering her face, leaving imprints of jammy red lipstick staining screwed up tissues in every place.

I’m from giving non church-going parents a rest by attending Sally Army Sunday school, singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know”, with them little realising this was the very best thing for me, as Truth would be rooted, dug deep, to bring life, grow fruit later and on to eternity

I am from East coast flatlands, fenlands, beaches and broads where holidaymakers stream in summer hordes; a cathedral city with cobbled streets, theatres, museums, castle on a hill, parks to play in and hide at will

And candy-floss fairs, sticky treacle pud and hot fried chips to grease and burn the lips. With Fanta, Corona, sherbet fountains, licorice laces and sweets bought to please, rot the teeth and grant parents some ease

I’m from marbles, hopscotch, skip and keep time, roller-skates, hula-hoops, pogo-sticks, reading and rhyme

With Jack Frost nipping inside the pane, hot water bottles, coal fires toasting shins and chestnuts, savouring the heat before we felt cold again

From leaving and cleaving elsewhere, going away and disappear, get a job, get a life, new husband, new wife, divorce, trouble and strife

Having twin sisterly sharing, squabbles, discipline, smacking, sitting legs dangling on chair where we sulked, wriggled impatient, until giggles erupted everywhere

There may not be too many precious mementoes to hang over my bed but I keep a select few tucked away in my head

Adult life meant starting anew when God claimed my heart at 17 years old.  And He’s been working diligently ever more behind the scenes to renew, repair and restore broken memories and dreams, weaving them into a tapestry beautiful to behold

*******

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Now you know even more about me!

There was much to reflect upon, as there always is when you’ve lived a longish life.

Do join in the synchroblog if you can. The template on sheloves.com is a guide but how you express it is up to you.

You don’t have to be poetic at all, that’s just the way I naturally lean.