My father washed the kitchen floor the way sailors swabbed the decks of old pirate ships. That was his story. First of all he stacked the chairs on the table and then he opened the back door wide. He scrubbed with careless gusto and lots of soapy water. Then he flung buckets of clean water from the kitchen doorway towards the open back door. He chased the rinse water down the backstairs with a straw broom. For the finale, I skated across the lino, using two old towels to dry it. He had a list of words to describe how we did it; licketty split, pronto presto and snip snap. When it was finished it was always ship-shape.
He would sit the chairs back around the table and make a pot of tea in the battered aluminum pot. He would make me Russian sandwiches to celebrate. These were eaten all over Russia, he said. Little girls came home from school and their fathers, called Ivan or Boris, would make them sandwiches just like the ones he made me. They ate them in Moscow, St Petersburg and Siberia. The sandwiches were made from Tip Top white bread. One piece of bread was spread with crunchy peanut butter and the other with vegemite. Cheddar cheese was place on the peanut butter side and slices of granny smith apple on the other. The resulting sandwich had everything - sweet, salt and crunch. I always ate them imagining little Ivana in her clean kitchen, sitting up to a plate of Russian sandwiches. My father knew everything about washing kitchen floors, sandwiches and Russia. Everything I needed to know.
Catherine Bateson, June 2014
I love little pieces of flash memoir, prose poetry or flash fiction. I'm currently revising a Life Writing course for my TAFE students and that's made me interested in flash memoir. This slides between flash memoir and a prose poem for me - but the boundaries between flash and prose poetry are often fluid. I'm really enjoying writing these little pieces!
Sit down to your own comfort food and peruse the rest of the offerings from the Tuesday Poem blogs. If you start at the hub, you'll find a wonderful poem, coincidentally also about parenting, 'Cloudboy' by Siobhan Harvey, posted there by guest editor, Helen McKinlay.