Wednesday 4 July 2018

Salmon ponds

After sharing some of my recent poems about parenting with a fellow poet of mine, she said she was surprised at the tone and content of them, that the photos I posted on Facebook gave off a lovely, smiling, happy impression of our lives and she would never have guessed I was finding motherhood challenging. I laughed and then shared the following poem that I had written about the difference between a photo on Facebook and the underlying experience. Facebook is a strange, complicated thing and I won't launch into a discussion about it here, but I thought I would share that poem. When I read it at the Seasonal Poets event a few people came up to me afterwards and told me they could relate :-) 

Salmon Ponds

gorgeous sibling Facebook photos
matching navy track pants,
one with pink beanie and pom-pom on top, one with white wispy hair
arm around the other’s shoulders, looking at the camera, smiling cutely

it was freezing
my hands turned to ice in ten minutes
it was day eight of husband being away for work
it was an outing planned for the sanity-salvaging forty-five minute drive there and back
it was the morning after being up through the night with toddler teething troubles,
woken early by daughter with phantom wet undies
it was after toy pram fights and three time-outs before packing the bag

on the way there, after wrestling son into seat with some force,
after stopping numerous times to cajole him to put arms back in straps,
after he removed shoes and socks which had been a struggle to put on,
after he ripped a page out of my favourite childhood book,
it was pointing out cows and swans,
explaining paper mills and singing along as the frog jumped out of the pond

on the way home it was relieved silence as they both slept and I wondered
how to resuscitate my mood, where to suture my patience,
how a simple outing could have been so onerous.

it was only the small things,
the fights over fish feed,
pellets flung to the ground as one snatched a cup from the other,
the anxiety of watching a toddler saunter close to the edge
the slow-motion response to my “Look! A fish jumped!”
“Look! A fish swimming, see its colourful tail swishing!”
my pointing and exclaiming
which failed to assist them to ever spot the fish

the fact that neither ate their treat – maple syrup pancakes –
so I ate them all and felt sick and bulky,
that son started pulling apart the already-ripped back of his highchair
and wouldn’t desist,
that he cried out repeatedly to be let down when I was still sipping my tea,
that they took turns banging their spoons on the table,
the trip to the loo with me wrestling him away from bin, toilet paper, tap, soap,
grabbing him up as he commando-crawled across the dirty floor to evade me,
the second trip to the loo thirty minutes later which resulted in no more three-year-old wee
just more two-year-old wrestling
the fights over sandwiches, drink bottles

the leisurely walk along the creek where I was hoping
to stretch my legs, get a slight pace going to warm up,
but where I had to stop every metre
because son refused to sit in pram,
wouldn’t walk in the right direction
or actually follow any instructions to leave the gate open /
don’t climb through the creek fence / hurry up
and daughter refused to hop out when I did finally convince son to hop in.

It’s just little things, over-reactions,
inflated expectations, taking things too seriously,
but look, here are my adorable children
smiling sweetly at the camera, her arm around his shoulders
beside the glistening pond –
(at least I got a good photo)
imagine if you will, the lovely time we had.

I'm still here!

Wow where has time gone over the last four years? I’ve now got a four-and-a-half year old daughter and a son who is turning three next week, I guess that’s where the time has gone! It’s also been buried by mountains of colds, flus and bugs that seem to chase little children and their families around relentlessly. I’ve written a poem about what I’ve been doing, called “Have you been doing any writing?” and it was chosen by the Communion Literary Journal and included in Volume 6, December 2016. You can find it here, if you scroll down past my “interview”.

I really enjoyed being a featured reader at the Seasonal Poets event at Hadley’s Hotel in May this year, alongside Gina Mercer and Ben Walter. It was good to present some new work and get some positive feedback on it from members of the audience, and it was special to share the stage with two people who I very much admire and who have helped me enormously on my poetry journey. It was great to hear that this fantastic quarterly event is going to continue despite the loss of Tasmanian Writers Centre funding. Hopefully as the kids are getting older and my husband is travelling less often for work, I might be able to get along to more of them!  

I’m also happy to have joined a new poetry workshopping group and am finding the monthly meetings very inspiring and productive. Hopefully I’ll be able to devote more time to poetry and post more often as the intensity of the early years of raising small children begins to lighten a little.