Inspired by Jordie Albiston’s use of her grandmother’s diary in The sonnet according to ‘m’, I dug out the folder of letters from my mother that I typed up in the mid 1970s. Here’s a sort of a sonnet based on one of the earliest of the letters, written in June 1964. My sister Mary Ann and I were both at boarding school, in Brisbane and cold Mittagong respectively. Our youngest sister Elizabeth was still at home, and our elder brother Eddie was working on the family farm.
Just a hurried scrawl which I hope you can read –
MA quite often can’t read certain words.
Eliza’s doing a Guides Test on Sat, Child Minding,
we’ve realised we don’t know any three year olds.
They mind a child in the Tester’s house. She checks
for what they do wrong. Lize can’t mind Stephanie Dillon
who’s barred because she’s too good & not a fair test.
Jackeline’s engagement’s still secret. Rumour predicts
a party in July to announce it – they’ll be broke!
I hope you’re taking the tablets to stop your chilblains
’cause you’ll feel the cold worse this year. Eddie’s in bed
with an awful cold he’s had for 2 weeks, but
he’s worked in the rain the whole time. Dad
has started painting the outside of the house.
I don’t know if it’s fun to read, but it was fun to do. Almost every word, including the ampersand, is from my mother’s pen.