On the shoulders of grandmothers

By | 15 May 2023

You do not read or write our language
loop the yarn of wool around your neck
legs out straight
on the chocolate and beige swirled carpet
I am child witness to your domestic reign
in the slide and pull of stitches
that do not drop
in the click and rub of steel knitting needles
a secret language of gesture and rhythm
a sovereign state behind a paling fence

white sheets catch the wind
sloped backyard planted into steppes
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers
prickly curl of watermelon vine
the cultivation of fallow ground
in the new world
to ward doubt

sheets off the line stretched
folded like pastry rolled thin
smoothed over
the pull of excess skirt hem
fat caught in the oilcloth
mercury rising

icon of St George, dragon impaled
candle lit
a trusted house sitter
your hands workworn
changing milky brine solilo/солило
pickling cabbage, green tomatoes
air tinged with the smell of vinegar
like an embalmer solicitously you worked your craft

together we read the pictures from
little golden books
old Macdonald’s farm
kikurigu petle/кикиригу петле….
Three billy goats gruff
Trap trup trap trup/трап труп трап труп
faithfully you taught me nashe/наше
amongst the snapdragons and camelias
pulling weeds quietly planting petunias
your knife sharpened on the back step
a chook that pecks deserves a knife….
doused with boiling water
plucked feathers fly
blood spattered grass

in the practice of small things
between village and suburb
around the movement of
earth from red to black
your words were
a broth of microminerals

Translations from Macedonian

Solilo /солило – brine

Nashe/наше – our language

Kikirigu Petle /кикиригу петле – cock-a-doodle-do

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