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Robert Stratford

Letter to Rosina


Rosa smiled at me

this morning Nana –


that same blue-eyed

cheeky grin you made


langered on the brandy

and the voices of my uncles –


in that railway house

in Moera.


Irish eyes and Danny Boy –

washboards, spoons and bottle tops


as you handed out the lollies

and the chips,


the blackberry nip

and lemonade, to all


us hundred cousins ­–

in that railway house in Moera.


Three generations on

I tell Rosa about those nights –


the fifteen children that you bore,

the way you lived,


the way you died.

You’re a mythology to her –


a naming saint, story-time matriarch.

And she’s still too young to understand,


why my eyes are brown

and hers have come from you.


How you were as great a tyrant

to those fifteen children, as


you were a force of kindness

to us grandkids.


Robert Stratford has published poetry in previous editions of 4th Floor Literary Journal as well as anthologies of the New Zealand Poetry Society. He is currently working full-time on a PhD exploring ecological education. An enthusiastic consumer of most foods, the occasional feast of blue cod and chips remains his very favourite.


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