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My Favourite Photo of Mum

I’ve just found my favourite photo of Mum,
standing in the snow of a new century
in the back garden; her sweater’s bottle-blue,
her smile an ad for British dentistry.

Sleeves rolled up, stood beside a wooden fence,
she acts as if she’s conjured up this show
of frigid whiteness, knowing that my wife
and child have never seen a flake of snow.

“Behold your breath! It smokes! Your Ears? They freeze!
The sun and sand, the dunes and constant heat
of desert climes a continent away
are spectres to my chilly, sandaled feet.”

Eyed by the statue of a stone-cold gnome,
Mum revels in the seasonal respite—
a pale and fluffy cloudfall’s inch of joy,
a nip of winter’s fleeting, frosty bite.

.

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Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.


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19 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Paul, I love this poem. What a beautiful nod to your joyous mum. I particularly like the line: “her smile an ad for British dentistry”. It reminds me of my hairdresser asking me if I’d passed the tests to become an American citizen… I told her I had – the only thing standing between me and my American citizenship was my British teeth. She couldn’t believe it, and of course I was joking… BUT, I wore a brace for the first time at the age of 50 and now I have American teeth!

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Susan. That line about dentistry was a bit of a gamble, but seems to have come off just right within context.

      Just look at pictures of David Bowie smiling when newly famous and later in his career and you see the difference between British and American teeth.

      Reply
  2. Rohini

    A pale and fluffy cloudfall’s inch of joy! I love that line and your joyful poem. Thanks for reminding me of my first experience of snow in Halifax NS, many years ago. I too danced with excitement… that soon gave way to cold and grey reality.

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Thanks, Rohini. I took a chance with the word ‘cloudfall’ (which isn’t actually a word), so I’m glad it worked. It is amazing how romantically we look at snow, only to find that prolonged exposure is uncomfortable to say the least.

      Reply
  3. Brian A. Yapko

    This is a very sweet poem, Paul. Even the clever nod to British dentistry was cheeky rather than unloving. This is a lovely and living tribute which has made me quite nostalgic for my own mother gone these 15 years.

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Brian. As I said in another comment, I’m glad the ‘dentistry’ bit came over as ‘cheeky’, and that the poem made you feel nostalgic.

      Reply
  4. Russel Winick

    Very enjoyable poem. I may be the most ignorant one in the group, but what‘s this about British dentistry?

    Reply
    • Paul Martin Freeman

      It’s very much as you might say, “hit-and-miss”, Russel. If you have a problem, the dentist hits and usually misses!

      Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Glad you enjoyed the poem, Russel.

      The reputation of British dentistry dates from the origins of the NHS when people my Mum’s age and a bit older, during an era of austerity (rationing) where getting their teeth fixed. As I mentioned before, early David Bowie photos with him smiling give you an idea.

      Reply
  5. Paul Martin Freeman

    A bit of fun, Paul.

    Not much of your usual mastery of meter and rhyme, but an enduring and unsentimental picture of your Mum to enjoy.

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Thanks, Paul.

      The meter and rhyme was much looser, originally, but I tightened it up to keep the poem emotionally on track.

      Reply
  6. Paddy Raghunathan

    Don’t have much else to add except echo the praises you have already received.

    Nicely done!

    Paddy

    Reply
  7. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I believe it is the pure joy and great smile that made this your favorite picture of her.

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      I still remember taking that picture one Yuletide/New Year when I was visiting. Snow, and particularly prolonged snow around London is perhaps a once a year event, now.

      Reply
  8. Janice Canerdy

    Paul, this touching, delightful tribute has made me smile~~actually, grin.
    I LOVE the lively figures of speech. Favorite Line: the one ending with
    “dentistry”!

    Reply
    • Paul A. Freeman

      Glad I made you grin, Janice.

      The poem was prompted by thinking I’d lost the photograph – which got me to sketch out some ideas for the poem. Then, finding the photo gave me no choice – I’d started so I had to finish.

      Reply
  9. James A Tweedie

    I constantly assert that a good poem should either evoke something (an idea, experience, memory, feeling) or tell a story of some kind. Yours does both. I can now say that, in a whimsical sort of way, I have had the pleasure of meeting your mum.

    Reply

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