I am usually a bit apprehensive when someone sends me their poetry to comment on, but as it was Janet who wrote "Three Sisters" which ends "Old Playgrounds", I knew I would like these. And I do.
She introduces the collection this way:
"This is a collection of poems written over the last twenty years. They are connected by being about women in some way. Most of them use the material of women in my family to reflect the times from the First World War to the present day. Others are based on my own experience and that of women I have observed."
She is giving her children and their children a window in time, a short but vivid trip in The Tardis. For example, there is this, from The Camel:
My mother wore a camel coat
And well into
It hung on her like
An animal pelt.
Had she spied the camel
Through a telescope?
A line of buttons
In a double pleat
Ran down the back.
I held it there,
Grasping as if it were
She could feel my every
Step and stumble,
I was safe....
The power of words - the right words.
That brings the past alive for me, as I remember those camel coats, and I remember how people's clothes WERE them, like an animal's fur, which is the image that Janet uses.
Nobody we knew had or needed the vast double wardrobes of today.
After my mother died, we were clearing out her room at Lilac Tree Farm - she lived with my sister and her family in her last years, which were frozen with arthritis. Not that there was much to clear out, she had painstakingly and methodically organised and sorted every bit of paperwork and all the family photographs to make it easy for us. That is the kind of mother she was - a good mother, in whose care us children felt safe. The mother in the poem. She had very little by then, as her furniture was going to stay at the Farm. But we went to her wardrobe - her small wardrobe - opened it and shut it again. Her clothes were so much her, we couldn't face getting rid of them. I don't know how long it took Pen to feel able to do it.
Anyway, I hope Janet's collection will be published and will keep the blog up to date with if and when.