Don't forget to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.
I had big plans to write a blog post on the winners of the CBC poetry prize this week. Two important things got in the way. First, I didn't finish reading the entries, and second, I finished this collection of poetry by Robert (Bob) Heidbreder. He wrote it after the death of his mother - claims it was the best grief counselling ever.
I adored it! It was like visiting with my mother in law and her bridge and coffee klatsch gals. These are lines of pure, sweet magic.
Each poem has the name of a person, place, or event. They contain the idle gossip of small town life all the while revealing a portrait of community and friendship among a group of elderly women.
Some poems are risqué. Others are heartbreaking. There are repeated announcements of another death. Those hit me hard because I remember my mother in law and my own mother going through loss after loss. I'm of an age where this is beginning, and I am still young compared to the elderly friends in the book.
The poems shine with Bob's trademark humour. I laughed out loud throughout the collection.
I had to read bits out loud to my husband, Randy, claiming, “Doesn’t this remind you of .......”
I cried at the end.
I feel like I’m missing someone I never met.
Bob has given me permission to share this poem in it's entirety with you all. It captures the essence of the entire collection.
We got a new girl at the Y,
for the water exercises.
She works us too hard.
We don’t feel like going for a coffee
and a roll after.
We're too tired.
Well, today she went to far.
Asked us to put our faces in the water
and kick – KICK without holding on.
So none of us did it,
just stood in the water
and tried to stare her under.
(You don’t go to these exercises
to get your hair all wet.
Lots of us just got it fixed yesterday
and maybe we got bridge today.
You can’t go looking all straggly and strung out.
They’ll think you’re letting yourself go,
like the ministers wife – no wonder,
I say, married to him, no wonder.)
And kicking without a board,
or holding onto the side!
Why, land’s sakes, she’d have a floating cemetery
in the pool – right like those graves
down by the river.
Come the spring thaw
when the river rises,
some of the caskets go floating off –
Lulumae's seen them from her river camp –
Some even got snakes on them,
hitching a ride
to the swamps.
Well that Lecky marched up to the gal after
and told her to get with it or get out.
(You know, Lecky, real bossy,
a plain-out speaker, but grew up hard.)
The girl starts to cry.
I kind of felt for her.
What does she know about growing old?
What does she know – yet?
So we all took her out for a coffee
and bun after,
all but Lecky.
She had to get her hair fixed –
the colour’s coming out:
she washes it too much, we figure.
© Robert Heidbreder
My interview with Bob is here if you want to know more about him.