Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Poem for Saturday

The Sally Basket

Sure, my trade was thatching,
But sidelined by slate and tile
I spent that August in the shed,
Weaving supple sallies
Into a light sciathóg.
While you watched in wonder
I bent and twisted
Pliable yellowing rods,
On the briar frame.

I taught you to avoid
The split, the crack
Respect the natural bend
And keep the corners smooth;
I taught you to conceal
The joins, make all look one.
Because you listened patiently
And even wove some rods
I entered the basket in your name
At Beltra September Show.

The half crown prize,
Though noted in the Champion,
Was soon spent and forgotten,
But long after I was gone
Forty years later you wove
A pardóg of midland willow.
It was misshapen, almost oval
But you hung it up on show,
No prize this time but pride.

This poem, first published in Crannog Winter 2005, is written in the voice of my grandfather who was a thatcher and creel and basket maker. He entered a basket, a sciathóg, he had made in my name in the local agricultural show in the mid-60s and it won first prize. Only recently I found Kathleen Mc Cormick, a local basket maker, who taught me to make a pardóg and proved that I could have won that prize myself.

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