Her mother did not leave her anything
but a necklace of humble acorns -
a string of thumbs in dull brown gloves.
She showed her how to make a soup
or distill a gin with it if she was starving.
The girl did not turn her face from cloth
of gold, easy pleasures or false gods.
She did not wear around her neck
the string of acorns, like a copse of oak
in a spoiled land, or a bowl of oats
at a banquet, both curse and oath.
But when her charms faded and
the invitations ended she ran the necklace
through her fingers like a rosary
Pauline says: "What started me off? I think it started with the word acorn - and free associating with the word, images came to me of medieval fairy tales or fables in which the heroine is encouraged to be good and good things will come from being good. And also there is something so humble about the acorn - its simplicity of shape and colour - and yet it grows into one of our iconic trees. Also a book that fascinated me as a child was the story of the people crossing America in their wagons to get to the West Coast: they were starving and all they had to eat were the acorns they found. There are also echoes of my own relationship with my mother - who was very strict and very pious - and then she had a daughter who was wild and who loved life too much...
"The form also is important to me - I do like music in poetry, and this one has very soft and I hope unobtrusive rhymes and a soft kind of music."
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A Necklace of Acorns © 2010, Pauline Plummer: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.