I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

1 October 2014

I Gave Away My Books

I gave my books to my mother,
though I didn’t know that I did.
When she and my dad split up,
I took just a few to the other home,
across the Strait, where I would live
for the next two years, during school terms,
with him and the new stepmother.

I was 15 then, so I left
all my childhood treasures —
Grimm, Hans Christian, Arthur Ransome,
oh, dozens more — crammed
in the cupboard beside my bed
in Mum’s new house, where I visited
for long, glorious, holiday summers;
took them out, stroked them, re-read.

I grew. University,
and then marriage.
Still the visits home to Mum.
‘I should take my books,
have them with me.’
‘Don’t,’ my mother said.
‘If you leave them here, I’ll know
you’re always coming back.’

Why did she doubt?
It was the other so-called home
to which I never returned
once I got clean away.
But I left them there, to please her,
knowing I would return
every year at Christmas.

Until that one year
I looked for my books
and found them gone.
‘I didn’t think you wanted them,’
she said. ‘You left them here so long,
squashed inside that cupboard.
Obviously you outgrew them
years and years ago.’

I gave my books to my mother,
gave them into her keeping,
until they were not kept.
When I was 60, I went to England.
There I found at last
a rare unexpurgated Grimm
to replace the one she got rid of.
The rest have not been replaced.

Beginning the '31 poems in 31 Days' challenge by John Hewitt of Poewar (aka Writer's Resource Center) — who, some years ago, got me started on these things. 

Prompt: Something you gave away as a child (or, at the end of childhood)

Also linking to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Children's Books


  1. Some of the childhood memories are so precious that we donot want to part with them.

  2. Oh, hard to lose those childhood books. Your mom likely forgot that conversation over the years. Poignant, her wanting the books to stay so "I'll know that you're always coming back." Loved this, Rosemary!

    1. I'm still a great hoarder of books! LOL

    2. I am too - I have shelves and shelves of them, plus stacks toppling here and there - and I live in one room. But I cant bear to get rid of any - plus I keep bringing more home!!! I need help!

  3. I think our parents have (understandably) a different perspective on our childhood treasures. We do not see them like they do because we did not experience the same things or feel the same way at the time. Yet it can be extremely disappointing or sad, as your poem shows.

  4. Oh,that is sad. You could have had those books. I have a lifetime's collection of books and have been promising to cull. If it ever came to a choice in years to come I would choose books rather than furniture. A person I most admire is a young pianist I know who lives in a room with a tiny bed a grand piano and books ( nothing else will fit.) I like her priorities.

    1. Books are like friends to me. I know each one individually, and greet them warmly when I unpack in a new home.

  5. So achingly lovely and significant on more than a single level - Bravo!

  6. A Book and Pencil Collector since childhood...but recent illness brought a change so ...many books donated, some sold, few Literature/ History and English Language books now make up my small personal library ...love your poem -so true -

    1. Wow, that'a huge change indeed. But you still remember your treasures, I'm sure, and that's a kind of revisiting.

  7. Tugs at the heart, especially hearts of book lovers

    1. Which probably means all my friends. *Smile.*

  8. Oh, I can understand the sorrow of it...I took with me from our Huge library my favorites couple books, mostly from childhood... Hugs

  9. I hate that feeling of having lost or given up something that you realise was so central to your being...I am glad you found at least one near replacement

    1. Of course, they are still in my memory! :) But it's not quite the same.

  10. Oh I could cry for you. The loss of books is hard indeed.

  11. powerful. thank you for sharing.