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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Old Singer Sewing Machine - by Max Richards

This snap of an old black one is handsome,
but Mother's was prettier, with flowers -

my hands touched her feet working the treadle
driving the big lower wheel turning

with its loop, a thin strip of leather,
sending its turning up to the small wheel.

Singer, I'd say to myself, while the musical
hum of it speeded up then slowed.

The shiny flat rectangle the needle entered,
that slid open and shut - under it

the tiny shiny reel of cotton she refilled -
her finicky threading of the needle -

my fear of its downward stroke so sharp.
Afternoons, mother's feet working the treadle.

A shadow mother at a shadow Singer
sewed shadows by the real one in the sun.

Her shadow treadle seesawed against the treadle.
Her real slippers, soft to touch, glowed gold.

Max Richards
Max Richards <> was born and educated in Auckland, New Zealand, studied in Edinburgh, and from 1967 taught literature and writing for many years at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Critical articles and reviews on Hardy, Edward Carpenter, MacNeice, Larkin, Heaney; Curnow, Glover, Baxter and other NZ poets; Peter Porter, Judith Wright, Les Murray and other Australians. Like William Hart-Smith on whom he has written, he is a poet of two countries. His books are 'Under Mount Egmont and other poems', 'Catch of the Day', and a recent booklet 'Ruffey and Nearby'. He lives in Doncaster, Melbourne,and teaches creative writing at his local arts centre.

illustration from

1 comment:

genevieve said...

That's just lovely - the movement in the poem is just like the machine's, or so I imagine (having only ever used an electric one).