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Abbey's Song

When she was four,

My evenings were spent listening
as her little mind unravelled the day
like a ball of wool untangled
The event un-spooled in colour

The minutiae of every significant moment:
a strangers hair, a teachers look,
a song of made up words
that came in a rambling tumble

Everything aglow when you were four,
everything grew with significance,
bubbled through the surface of the eye,
Was held in awe for a fleeting moment,
Palm up

Then let go

To drift downwind
Until the next, seeking, came and found it
And entwined it into their own brocade

Somewhere in the imperceptible,
between waking and dream
She yawned and went quiet,
her little hand loosed its grip
And I placed it delicately beside her,
the precious yarn given.

Style / type: 
Free verse
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Last few words: 
Done from memory, old family albums etc.
Editing stage: 


I appreciate your poem now with grandchildren and all. You have nicely captured the tenderness, and delicacy. It has a good presence.

A few comments
I would open the poem with "My evenings" and incorporate Abby's age in the poem somewhere.
I do not prefer the word "significant" as the moments should be defined like that through the images, which they are.
It is very tempting for us to simply state what we mean as in:

Everything so important when you were four,
everything glowed with significance,

Here I feel it is too direct, factual. These aspects should be suggested through similar images in the poem.

Lastly I am struggling with "precious cargo" as too cute, too used (I printed millions of "precious cargo" T-shirts for kids in my screen print shop). Too many greeting cards use it.

It is quite hard to write poems about children without being overly sentimental. Very often sentimentality works better as lyrics for songs. There are some good songs to children
- Lennon's song to Shawn, Joni Mitchel's LIttle Green, or this one by Paul Simon

"Father And Daughter"

If you leap awake in the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second you can't remember where you are
Just open your window and follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain where we counted every falling star

I believe a light that shines on you will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee there's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever
And never leave 'til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head

I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you

Trust your intuition
It's just like goin' fishin'
You cast your line and hope you get a bite
But you don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the market place
Try to help the human race
Struggling to survive its harshest night

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

A snapshot of memory. Vivid and perfect.

There is one word I might question...... 'weave' should it be 'wove'?
'To drift downwind
Until the next seeking mind, came and found it
And weave it into their own brocade'
Chris, I love all your poetry, you are a very fine poet.

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if you want to keep the word weave, that you use a [to] in front of it or as Jane says: change it to wove. Personally, I like the [to weave]. Precious cargo and the rest; doesn't seem too used to me. It might just be that Eumolpus has indeed printed too many T-shirts with that slogan on them. Kinda like having someone play the same song over and over and over... Well, you get it. Eventually, even though you loved that song before and they don't play it that often anymore, you can't stand it! Nice work and she must be "precious"! ~ Gee.

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good advice already given so I'll just say you captured it really well. I have a 4 year old grandson and he's like a book being written then read back by the protagonist.........stan

I will try and weave some magic into it. It might be a US thing, the precious cargo - it's not hackneyed down here. Perhaps we're behind the times!

Thanks all.

Chris Hall - Tasmania

Grossbooted draymen rolled barrels dullthudding out of Prince's stores and bumped them up on the brewery float. On the brewery float bumped dullthudding barrels rolled by grossbooted draymen out of Prince's stores.

author comment

There is a large American kids brand called Precious Cargo. There is also a very popular bumper sticker cars have with a silhouette of a child stating "Precious Cargo Aboard" . It was my first reaction to that phrase, so I mentioned it...but it does not seem to be an issue with other comments. Cultural Idioms are very transient.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

Everything aglow when you were four I think works better than
Everything so important when you were four,

And the precious yarn connects the work nicely to the opening image.

Lastly i would add some more punctuation, especially more periods (only one) among the commas.
But nice poem, warm, peaceful.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

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