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Homestead Neighbours. Mother and Mrs Svenson

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  • Homestead Neighbours. Mother and Mrs Svenson

    It was easier to take the weekly wash to the water
    Than to cart the water home.
    So, every Monday (weather permitting)
    Mother loaded the laundry on a wooden wagon,
    And trundled down to the creek,
    Where she met Mrs. Svenson.

    Mrs. Svenson could speak no English,
    And Mother’s Scottish rendering of English
    Was sometimes mystifying.
    But, while the washing dried on low branches,
    Mother and Mrs Svenson chatted without pause.

    Neither knew what the other was saying,
    Which sometimes led to unusual conversations,
    As they shared oatcakes, thin bread, and a flask of tea.

    For example, my mother once commented,
    “It’s a braw drying wynd”
    (She always pronounced wind as if it rhymed with kind)
    And held out her hand to indicate the wind’s force.

    Mrs. Svenson shook her head vigorously,
    Swept her hand in an arc towards the sky,
    And insisted, in perfect Swedish,
    “It will not rain today!”
    Well, I suppose these two could have got things a lot more mixed up.
    The fact is, they enjoyed talking to each other,
    Across the creek which separated their homesteads.

    As years rolled by, Mother’s English became, if anything, more Scottish.
    And Mrs Svenson stuck with her native tongue.
    Their kids grew up got married, settled close by.

    On different days, both these women stood at open graves,
    Bidding farewell to their life partners;
    Praying in their heart’s dialect.
    Together, they cried,
    And eventually, both died,
    Never learning the other’s language
    But understanding each other very well.

    Did I mention that I married Mrs Svenson’s daughter?
    Our kids speak both languages.

  • #2
    Congratulations, Ed, on a fine example of poetry. Enjoyed your piece very much. Do you use the Rhyme Zone site a lot? Have you ever posted your work at All-Poetry? I can relate to this story which flows beautifully in free verse.


    • #3
      This poem is still relevant today. You can go down to the Rio Grande and watch the Mexicans wash their clothes. I don’t speak Spanish, but I think they’re saying; we’re coming over.


      • #4
        Really enjoyed your poem, because I could SEE it! The kurlman