14 September, 2010

The Tincture of Salt

The Tincture of Salt - Alicia Bennett

The Tincture of Salt is a collection of poems by Alicia Bennett. It was given to me by one of my book group friends.

I'm not a huge poetry person - I either love it or hate it. I don't have a lot of time for lots of flowery imagery or symbolism, but this was a gorgeous collection. For me, the best way to describe it, is to share one of them.

Her Rosary

She had seven children
Two were at home
when she clutched their tiny hands
and sought safe haven
with swollen cheek
and bloodied lip
at her parish church.

The priest, who'd baptized
all seven
instructed her to
go home and be a better wife.

She discovered that
the local bus shelter provided
as good a refuge as any
her brood climbing
and darting around the ancient fig
shading the tin roof.

When older
she drank a stubbie a day.
Her kitchen smelt
faintly of hops
roast lamb and veggies.
She shelled peas
discarding the husks
into sheets of newspaper
as I gorged on mulberries
in the back yard.

She read Mills and Boon
the Soapies
her real religion
a fantastical world
compared to her marriage and
decades of celibacy.

Now her wooden rosary beads
the colour of cherries
worn under her lifetime
sit in my jewellery box.

I often contemplate
what she would have thought
had she known
her granddaughter
took comfort in the arms
of other women.

Would she still have placed her
prayer beads
in my palm with her papery fingertips?