Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

Poem of the Month

July 2018

One of the most iconic buildings in my home town of Maryborough is historic Baddow House, built in 1883. This poem tells the story of its loving restoration (written with the permission of the then owners).

The Love Stories of Baddow House

© Shelley Hansen 2012

Tell me – what are you thinking each time you drive past?
Do I hear you say, as you move on -
"Look! There's old Baddow House someone did up at last,
built by hands long-forgotten and gone?"
Is that all that you see? Is that all that you say?
Just a relic of some bygone day?

No! I'm much more than that! I'm the sum of the souls
of my people – who lived and who died.
I'm the songs that they sang, I'm the gate of their goals,
I'm the torrent of tears that they cried.
I'm the heart of their hopes, I'm the face of their fears –
through one hundred and thirty long years.

By one man for his wife I was built as a gift –
but she died, and he sorrowed in vain.
Soon the wide river threatened me, swollen and swift
with the flooding of incessant rain.
But those years were made precious – my heart set awhirl –
by the smile of a beautiful girl.

Then the bankers evicted her, forced her to go,
and no more did her laughing eyes shine.
In my spirit I groaned at her grief and her woe –
how I wished that the power were mine
just to reach out to touch her, to lessen her fears -
as my walls felt the salt of her tears.

Then the love of a man and sweet lady I knew
and her fingers played music sublime!
But as silent as shadows, they faded from view
to be lost in the grey mists of time.
I remained in bare solitude, cold and bereft –
phantom memories all that were left.

I have known savage cruelty, felt bitter blows –
through my smashed window panes came the rain.
With my balustrades broken, I writhed in the throes
of my splintering, fracturing pain.
Then they took my adornment and sold it for war,
and my grandeur and grace were no more.

So I slept – sometimes empty and sometimes with sounds
of the movement and shadows of men,
or the laughter of children who ran through my grounds
playing hide-and-seek, now and again.
Though they half-roused my slumber, I did not ask why.
Uneventful, the years filtered by.

Then one day a new voice penetrated my dream,
and I heard, but did not understand
the strange words of two people, yet catching a gleam
of their kiss, as they stood hand in hand.
"Yes! I love it – whatever it takes!," shouted he.
"Even just as it is," murmured she.

So they willed me to wake, and to face what I must –
in the coldness of fear at the start;
till at last, very slowly, I learned how to trust
once again, and to open my heart
when I felt on my walls the caress of a kiss.
Ah! How long I had waited for this!

Then came pain – but this time with a purpose in view
as they underpinned, strengthened my bones.
Once again doors were swinging, bright lights shone anew,
casting shadows on fresh painted tones;
while upon my poor skin came the touch of a hand,
light and loving – its coarseness to sand.

Magic mud they call "plaster" soon smoothed out the lines
of my features, deep-pitted with age.
In the river I caught my reflection – the signs
of awakening, turning the page
to a bright new millennium, catching my breath –
unafraid of decay and of death.

They bedecked me with flowers and iron clad lace,
and my thick tangled jungle they cleared;
and I felt the fresh sunlight glow warm on my face
as the grime marks of years disappeared.
With their own caring hands, raising joy out of strife,
they restored me to wonderful life.

For so many sad days I was just an eyesore –
that is all that most people could see.
But a man and a woman believed I was more,
and they saw all the things I could be.
With their pride and their passion, my future they sealed –
with their laughter, my spirit they healed.

Now my surgery's done! They have nursed me to health,
and my frame stands erect – proud and tall.
That they love me and cherish me – this is my wealth,
but my thankfulness swells most of all
when I think of the day they first saw me, because
they both loved me the way that I was!

site managed by freesites