Poetry by Maureen Wilkinson

Inheriting My Parents' Things

This poem has been published in Poetry Review.


A hardwood sewing box, part of her trousseau,
a diabetic pastille tin containing
buttons and an arthritic thimble,
a rattan pot stand, woven by my father,
a cross-stitched needle case, sewn by my sister, aged six, now dead;
black and white photographs,
spanning eight decades in as many pages;
a wooden darning mushroom, sock yarns, bodkins;
two golden rings, heart pendant, broken watch,
baby's hair brush and rattle, and a box
of all the choiceless birthday cards I'd ever
purchased in haste, during a workday lunchtime.

The shell-thin signet ring he thought he'd lost
which turned up ten years later in the garden.
His Braille pocket watch, two leather purses
holding the knotted string, new coals, old pennies
he kept to bring him luck; a mantle clock
stopped at 10.45; a dried up acorn
once given to him by an unseen grandchild.

These were my parents' things, surviving time's
rationalities, surviving death;
which now are mine; boxed icons in my wardrobe.
How best to squander my inheritance?

Click here to return to the Poetry Index