For this family no precious objects,
collections to be loaned to museums
or passed down as heirlooms.
Scarce enough money sometimes
to put food on the scrubbed table
or buy corduroys for the boys
to cover their bare bums from trousers
worn too thin for decency.
Yet on the surprising tide
some treasure is brought to shore.
What strange waves brought to me
this package of well-thumbed letters?
Paper is worn to silk, envelopes torn
by eager fingers when they first arrived
bringing news from home.
Some are written on paper torn
from schoolbooks, or written on the backs
of things no longer needed:
no notepaper to speak of in the house.
I would welcome comments on this poem with constructive criticism. I want these poems to be as good as possible, partly because I always want that and partly because I want to do the letters justice and I want to produce work that can stand next to Maria Walker’s wonderful artwork and still hold up its head.