God help my kids for I’m collecting junk

whale-bone-with-hag-shellsGod help my kids for I’m collecting junk
and I intend to die without sorting worth from worthless.
There’s the usual – books and china, my father’s shoe-care kit;
the odd antique’s been handed down.
There’s forty years of paintings, poems, computer files and paper work.
There’s collections of their baby teeth, god help them.

But the real collection’s harder: beetle bodies, bits of stick,
skulls of birds and skeletons (for instance of a mouse).
There are feathers too, exquisite, from emus, brolgas, ducks.
There’s driftwood and there’s stones from every beach I ever walked
and inland stones as well, from Broome to Oodnadatta.
White, yellow, red and black: there’s even dirt, god help them.

I’ve a basket of crushed grass because it smells like lemon,
pressed seaweed in black zigzagged filigree.
There are fifteen thousand photographs, most of them of bark,
but also lichen, water, spice and rust.
I’ve an artwork made of shells from the bower of a bird –
not ivory but irony, god help them.

But my kids are nutty too – wishing willing
of some crazy treasure. I’ll let them fight it out.
Meanwhile they’re collectors and I’m jealous;
my daughter has a scat from a snake that ate five baby mice.
The evidence is clear. Bad habits never die;
they just get handed on. God help them.




inspired to post this old poem (another ten years of collecting since!) by Suzanne’s post at Art and Life 

14 thoughts on “God help my kids for I’m collecting junk

  1. Don’t get me started
    I just finish cleaning out my storage space
    God I can’t begin to tell you what I went through
    My head is still spinning from the stuff I found
    To what I went through just to get rid of all of it
    Please I’m not really finished
    Now comes the house

  2. Belinda, this is delightful. My home is also full of such ‘junk’ – washup walnut shells that look like miniature hearts, coloured rocks, old love letters that my parents wrote. I’m so glad I’m not the only one…because every so often I feel guilty about the work I am leaving my children.

  3. sticks and stones
    the names you called me
    broke my bones

    shoe shining brush
    In a cardboard box
    I keep your bristles

    the weight in my pocket
    of feathers

    How you do inspire me Belinda, I love your poetry…x

  4. Two things simultaneously:
    Yes – God help them
    How fortunate they are to have a lovely artist mum.

    When it comes to artists collecting STUFF, maybe
    the overwhelm and guilt just have to co-exist with the beauty and possibility.
    PS love your poem

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