How I begin to know you through these letters.
In 1923 she was away from home, your girlie,
leaving behind three clumsy boys
and two baby daughters to plague you.
That winter was so harsh
the wind blew the pictures off the wall
and your cough gusted through the house,
your chest creaked like old floorboards
and you wrote of everything you did,
saving scraps of gossip about secret weddings
to piece together with the oppression
of household chores, the perils
of ironing with a badly-cut thumb,
the days it took the washing to dry
and little Dorothy going worse naughty,
smashing all the plates, while namesake Ada
screamed and yowled because she did not know
like older ones, how to write a letter.
The house must have quietened at night
while the boys laboured over their letters;
my father’s carefully neat, Vincent’s scrawled,
not yet master of his pen, and you’re exhausted
but no power can stop you writing page after page
in your carefully flowing script. For doesn’t
a mother cat cry when a kitty is lost.
Ada, grandmother, how alike we are
two mothers looking out for our dear ones.