“I hated that fly whisk. It was made of a zebra’s tail hairs and I hated it. It got burnt in the Glasgow blitz, and good riddance.”
But the woman remembering her childhood put it in her poem, so it still mattered.
I was spending a wonderful evening with Closeburn WRI, who had invited me along to read some of my poems to them. Which I did. However, I was also deeply curious as to whether I could get them to enjoy writing one of their own - and it turned out they were definitely up to the challenge. I set up a way to help them write a 6 line poem in 20 minutes, focussed on early childhood and a particular house - and then asked them to share the results. Almost everyone did.
The experience and talent of this roomful of women really flowed over when they read out their work. The suds and smells of washing day, the hiss and glow of gas lighting, the pleasure of stroking a long-ago cat. That gruesome fly whisk. And the bedroom that would disappear, because there were two sets of stairs, and a small girl who would lose her sense of direction in the dark upstairs.