Evelyn Annie

by helen lehndorf

Poor Evelyn Annie with her addled brain.
But how you loved her anyway.

Lying in the sunroom, her house with that smell
of gas and lavender. Who towards the end,
took a 10am sherry. “A little of what you fancy,
does you good.”

When your small teeth proved too feeble,
for the gingernuts
she dipped them in her tea,
fed you like a baby bird.

And the ninety chocolate buttons
on her ninetieth birthday cake-
she fought you for every last one.
“Get off! They’re mine. I’ve earned them.”

Evelyn Annie who earned money
by wet-nursing. Who saved her
premature twin boys from dying with
breast milk and whiskey, dripped into them
off a spoon. Who never swore, but said “Archbishop!”

The only toy she had for you,
were three brass monkeys:
Hear, see, speak no evil. And
a knitted tea-cosy in the shape of a house.
Evelyn Annie who never owned her own house.

Last pat of the hand, she didn’t recognise you, but took
your gift of a handkerchief dabbed with lavender oil.

Sniffed it and smiled.
Evelyn Annie who hated waste. Newspaper
became toilet paper. Butter paper lined baking tins.
And when she had her tonsils out, asked to take them home.
Fed them to her cat.


HH and I are excited to take part in Mary McCallum’s new initiative: The Tuesday Poem Writers from all over New Zealand post a poem by themselves, or someone else. I’m all for more poetry in pixel-land. Thank you, Mary for a great idea!

I’ve gone in for a bit of vanity with our first poem – I wrote it. It received a ‘highly commended’ in the 2008 Bravado Poetry competition.

Evelyn Annie was my maternal great grandmother. Enjoy!