Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Sisters“.

This week we chatted about age, self promotion, Basement disks, live music and it turned into a long rambling conversation.

One of the better shows I think and a poem I am really happy with.

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:


Also have a listen to the tracks on the new EP “Once We Were Kings Of The World


Near thirty years, the Fraser sisters, lived at number four
Having moved from interstate not long after the war

Their modest clinker terrace not much larger than a flat
A well kept cottage garden and the obligatory cat

Manners, always faultless, without having much to say
A brief exchange of pleasantries then politely on their way

Not that Cyril Stokes, at number eight, gave in without a try
All he’d get was “Morning Cyril, lovely day, goodbye”

“No wonder they’re bloody spinsters” who’d have them for wives
Eunice, his spouse, would roll her eyes and secretly envy their lives

A confidence shared with Cyril at noon would circle the world by tea
Yet all he’d gleaned on the sisters would fit on the wing of a flea

The more outgoing of the two, the elder sister Viv
Ran a thriving Tea Room, a few doors from The Tiv

Anne worked in millinery, just down the road at Myer
Till a stroke in nineteen fifty eight forced her to retire

Anne never quite recovered, health in gradual decline
Viv gave up the tea rooms to care for her full time

She’d wheel Anne round the garden when the roses were in bloom
Brush her hair and read to her, when too ill to leave her room

“A nursing home” the doctor begged “You’ll die without respite”
Viv wouldn’t hear a word of it, nursed Annie, day and night

For a decade Viv looked after Anne in their tiny maisonette
Not a fragment of resentment; not a moment of regret

Annie died in autumn, barely sixty years of age
Viv spread her ashes in a bed of Golden Sage

The remainder of her life, Viv chose to live alone
Content to tend the garden, rarely ventured far from home

The pastor at her funeral spoke of selfless dedication
The worth of family values and of moral inspiration

Her lawyer spoke less glowingly, left carrying the can
Viv’s will, drawn in the sixties, bequeathed everything to Anne

Public records drew a blank, they could trace no next of kin
Till they found a hoard of private papers stored in a biscuit tin

The pair had different surnames: different fathers, different mothers
There were no Fraser sisters – Viv and Anne were lovers

In an era when their union could have landed them in jail
They were forced to live a lie: exist behind a veil

In these more enlightened times would they be freed at last?
Or reconciled with platitudes: assigned a lower caste

Without the right to marriage, our reticence confirms
We acknowledge you as equals but not on equal terms

We are yet to fully recognise, that when push comes to shove
It’s not about the gender – it’s all about the love

© Copyright 2012 Ian Bland

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