Elephant Trousers

It seems that summer has given up,
gloomy, overweight clouds
sagging, grey-bellied.
Although a salvaged remnant of
watery blue breaks through,

like the fabric you bought for my dress;
I’d had my eye on it for weeks,
faded, outstayed welcome in
shop window, scrap-box demoted.
Nice and cheap though
and you had enough
broderie anglaise trimming at home
to brighten it up.

Out came the Singer;
how I loved that machine,
its treadle and spools, smell of oil
and complicated attachments –
Please don’t play with those.
Your stoical fast pedaling full of purpose.
You showed me how to use it,
delicate threads of patience
stitched into every pin-pricked lesson,
with yards and yards of laughing love.

I can see you now
looking up at today’s clouds.
There isn’t enough blue sky up there
to sew an elephant a pair of trousers,
I hear you say.

 Image

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63 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pete Armetta
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:29:57

    Pefect. Nuanced. I’m there!

    Reply

  2. leamuse
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:32:47

    WOW Christine! A beautiful poem and loving tribute. There were a few of those old machines in the family but I never saw them used.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 12:38:37

      Thank you Lea!

      I used to sew such a lot, all my own clothes, and the children’s. I even made bridesmaids dresses, first communion, evening dresses etc. I loved it!

      The machine in the photograph didn’t belong to my mum; she traded hers in for an electric one when they first came out. But this one belonged to my mother-in-law and she gave it to me when she could no longer sew, as I was the only one in the family who sewed. So now it has been lovingly restored and remains with me! 🙂

      Love
      Christine
      xx

      Reply

      • leamuse
        Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:16:53

        You are so creative! Your poetry is one of the many ways you express your world and the beauty that surrounds you.

        Love,
        Lea
        Xxx

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 13:36:58

      Aw thank you Lea. Your comment has given me such a warm feeling.

      Love

      Xxx

      Reply

  3. leamuse
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:28:17

    Christine, reading your posts is like a big warm hug from across the channel!

    Love,

    Xxx

    Reply

  4. bardessdmdenton
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:07:17

    Oh, Christine, I absolutely LOVE this poem … it tells such a warm, real story … and it made me smile for another reason, too – I am currently writing a short story for Christmas that is so similiar to the sentiment of this poem. And I used to sew all my own clothes, too; as well as for other people (mostly my cousins’ kids) and costumes for Renaissance Faires. And I made dolls and dolls sculptures – even did craft shows for a few years back in the 1990’s.

    But, most importantly, back to your poem. I LOVE your ‘description’ of the Singer. (I have an old one in my living room with a lamp on, too – that ‘s about all there’s room for as it doesn’t fold down like yours). And the last stanza is so lovingly and wittily reflective.

    This is a wonderful poem and I MUST share! XO ♥

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:28:26

      Thank you Diane, for this lovely comment!

      Yes I remember you saying you sewed for Renaissance Faires. You showed us a photo some time ago, of you dressed in something you had made.

      I loved sewing. I once made an evening dress for my mum (whom the poem relates to) when she couldnt find anything she liked in the shops. My first two children were not much more than babies at the time and she couldnt believe how I could fit it in. She didnt know I worked on it at night after they had gone to bed! How did I ever have so much energy??!!! I used to make soft toys too, and our youngest Ruth remembered only the other day how I had made her Tom and Gerry, but they were knitted, not sewn, but I made cuddly pandas and one lovely pink furry rabbit with a very old fashioned dress and apron. I even made a tiny handkerchief for the apron pocket. This one was a nightdress case. Oh I could talk about this forever!!! Lol

      And thank you so much for sharing this too! ❤ Xx

      Reply

  5. lscotthoughts
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:08:44

    This is a beautiful poem of nostalgia, Chris! I was never into sewing, but my Mom and Mom-in-law could sew anything, so this reminds me of these two very special women in our lives who are looking down from those over-weight clouds…thank you! Hugs! xoxo

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 15:32:30

      Thank you vey much Lauren!

      I was always happiest when I had a sewing project ongoing. And I really enjoyed making soft cuddly toys too. They were such a delight as their little characters gradually emerged. They always had names well before they were finished!

      Hugs to you too ❤

      Reply

  6. Francina
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 18:45:30

    beautiful nostalgic poem , Christine… I love the lines over-weight clouds and who you seamless transferee them to the elephants.. My mom had a singer too and she was very good with it… Me .. I’m a hopeless case in that department 🙂
    lots of love and hugs xxxx

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 19:17:24

      Thank you very much Francina! I really loved sewing; I miss it but its just not possible anymore. But I have poetry now which I didnt have then! Life is strange how it changes but there is also something to be grateful for. 😊 Love and hugs xxx

      Reply

  7. Caddo
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 19:28:02

    Oh WOWZA, Chris–this is a prize-winning poem for sure!! My goodness, such lovely perfection in each and every chosen word/phrase–a masterpiece, truly. Can you tell I love it? Yes! Hs and Ss–your crazy Caddo sis

    Reply

  8. Harry
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 20:01:28

    Lovely Christine, my mother used to have an old Singer machine like that one.

    Reply

  9. hollyannegetspoetic
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 20:03:48

    Oh this is lovely Christine! My Mum had one just like it – it was ancient, but rather lovely. And all the dresses she made for us on it, clattering away at the footplate. I now have a patchwork quilt sewed from all the scraps of those dresses, once they’d worn out or been grown out of – every patch is full of memories. Though I’m slightly ashamed to admit, the sewing gene did not pass on to me or my sister!

    Reply

  10. Betty Hayes Albright
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 21:28:20

    Christine, I love this – the elephant references, the imagery, and the memories of your mother’s Singer sewing machine. (Brings back thoughts of my own mom sewing on her Singer. And my grandmother had the treadle machine.)
    Well-crafted poetry (as always! 🙂 )

    Reply

  11. Jackie
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 22:28:18

    What a wonderful poem! It put a smile on my face and warmed my heart. Thank you. xx *hug*

    Reply

  12. Ina
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 06:10:37

    Hi Christ[ne, what a lovely poem, and memory! How great to be able to make clothes yourself!

    My mother was very good in making clothes too. ( I always hated the obliged bit of knitting and sewing though lol, but I can imagine the joy it must give! ) I do have my grandfather’s Singer sewing machine, he was the one doing the sewing, my grandmother didn’t like to do it either. They are such lovely machines! 🙂 L&H xxx

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 09:25:20

      Thank you very much Ina!

      Im afraid I didn’t pass the knitting skills on to my children; our youngest asked me to teach her again a few months ago! She is alnost 27!!! Lol. And neither of the girls do much sewing, but they have it in them. I think you saw the parrot costume I put on fb our older daughter made last week for her little boy. Its just that they dont really have the interest in it that I had.

      L&H xx

      Reply

  13. Libby
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 11:06:27

    This is a beutiful poem, and makes me want to get out my sewing machine!

    Reply

  14. triciabertram
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 17:26:19

    A beautiful poem full of powerful imagery and warm memories.
    Love it.
    Hugs
    Tricia ❤

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 17:30:52

      Thank you Tricia! I wanted the photo to show the actual machine, but it drops down inside so it can be a table (which is what I now use it as), and it was too heavy for me as I was on my own.. But it’s the poem that matters, not the photo!

      Its certainly full of warm memories 😊

      Love and hugs ❤ xxx

      Reply

  15. Cynthia Jobin
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 20:01:19

    I’ve been away, without internet, but what a treat to come back and find this terrific poem! I also made my own clothes, years ago, including a prom gown and a two-piece swimsuit! The old Singer with treadle which I inherited, I keep in the area I call my music room (Singer…..get it?…sorry). It’s badly in need of refinishing (something else I used to do, but…). It sports an antique tiffany lamp and has three tiny draws on each side, good for storing postage stamps, odd rubber bands, dog yummies, kazoos, castanets, and anything a visiting small child decides to hide there. These days, I knit; it’s my “western” form of meditation. Thank you so much for sending me on a lovely trip down memory lane!

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 20:48:34

      Hi Cynthia!

      Thank you! Im so pleased this gave you a smile and a trip down memory lane! The memories came flooding back as I wrote it. It lovely knowing someone else who sewed! I also loved kniting too, but I cant do either now unfortunately. But I found poetry! There is always a silver lining if we search it out 😊 x

      Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 20:55:26

      PS Forgot to say how much I love the idea of your “music” room! And also your “western” meditation! I think my best meditation moments are when Im messing around with oil or chalk pastels simply merging colours with my fingers! I seem to get some amazing patterns – I cant draw or paint for toffee as the saying goes! 😊

      Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 13:31:20

      😊. 😊

      Reply

  16. PookyH
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 21:11:06

    I adore this – it evokes really vivid images of you patiently (or impatiently) trying to learn imperfectly – though it sounds like you got VERY proficient!

    As a kid I used to be a cafe supervisor at a kid’s theme park and all the tables in the cafe had these singer sewers as bases. If it was a wet day and everyone was sat inside, it would drive us crazy as the kids would pedal them and squeaking drove us to distraction!

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 13:23:36

      Thank you Pooky!

      What a great story about the Singer tables! They are fasciating for children; I can remember kneeling on the floor when I was little just pushing the treadle up and down with my hands. And then I would try and make the wheel at the side go round with my hands too and more often than not I would dis-engage it from its wire/lead or whatever it was called. Then I was in a rouch of trouble!! Lol 😊 x

      Reply

      • PookyH
        Oct 12, 2013 @ 16:23:37

        Oh dear! I have never learnt to use a sewing machine of any kind. I wasn’t allowed to touch my Mum’s (which was rarely used) I own a really good one which has never left its box. I decided when Lyra was a tiny baby that I wanted to learn to sew so I got one for christmas but then I was terrified and didn’t know where to start and also (shockingly) found I didn’t’ have a lot of time to play sewing when I had a tiny tiny baby!

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 16:27:00

      Its a very time consuming occupation! When my children were tiny, I did most of my sewing after they had gone to bed but then I wasnt doing a PhD!!! 😊 xx

      Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 16:56:08

      😊 😊 x

      Reply

  17. I HAVE A VOICE
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 22:46:43

    Loved every clear allusion and the foggy remembering of a Before ~ I applaud you ! Simply great !

    Reply

  18. tikarmavodicka
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 00:25:49

    Hi Christine,

    This is such a lovely poem! It touches my heart. I really felt happiness and a sense of connection. Crafts have a habit of doing that. They really can bring people closer. 🙂
    Alas I share no connection with sewing machines. Me and sewing machines don’t mix. I just end up a tangle of thread. I hand sew though. It’s a lot more time consuming but still worth the effort. 🙂
    Thankyou for sharing such a beautiful memory. 🙂

    (((Big Warm Hugs)))
    Tikarma.
    Xoxoxox

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 13, 2013 @ 08:56:37

      Thank you very much Tikarma for your lovely comment. And I agree with you that crafts, whatever they are, do bring a sense of connection. I hadn’t really considered this until you mentioned it here, but now I think about it, I have definitely experienced the feeling.

      I never minded hand sewing to a certain extent, but was always much more at home with the machine. I loved knitting too, but as much as mum tried to coax me to crochet, I never got there!! 😊

      Lo e and
      (((BIG WARM HUGS)))
      Christine
      Xx

      Reply

  19. harulawordsthatserve
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 08:25:09

    Gorgeous Christine, I love the imagery in this ‘overweight clouds’ – brilliant! Just as long as they don’t lose weight on me:-) My Mum had a singer too, and the detail you use (smell of oil) really brings this poem to life with real heart. ‘…to sew an elephant a pair of trousers’ – that’s priceless! Loved it:-) Hugs, Harula xxxx

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 13, 2013 @ 09:00:24

      Thank you very much Harula!

      I wouldn’t wish those clouds to lose their weight on you either! – you gave me a smile here! 😊

      I can still smell the oil! It gives me a warm feeling 😊

      Love and hugs
      Xxx

      Reply

  20. Jane Thorne
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 14:28:22

    Love this Christine, one of your best. So many memories in this and it took me right back. Love the saying. Thank you,l biggest hugs. Xxxx

    Reply

  21. suzywordmuser
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 15:32:10

    What lovely memories Christine, and you’ve said it so well you kind of transported me there – like a time machine! 🙂 There is something so essential about memories like this. They may have seemed like an ordinary day at the time, but strangely over the years they become magnified and are the evidence of our loved ones, and love that we had at the time. I wonder if far less children today will have much of a memory of their parents at all, because computers (great as they are) absorb so much of our time and separate us all into our own little worlds. I suppose it will vary with different families, as to how many of these moments they have. Those close sharing moments of life are so essential for our future minds! And this really brought back a few of the ones I had with my mum, not so much the sewing machine because she never had one, but she still made little clothes for my dolls, knitted cardigans and jumpers and added a piece of material onto a skirt to make it longer. In some ways I’m glad my family weren’t rich, because probably none of that would have happened, it would have just been bought from shops, which will never leave these kind of memories.

    And I love the bit about there not being enough blue sky to sew an elephant a pair of trousers – a brilliant way to end it!! 😀

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 13, 2013 @ 16:37:37

      Thank you very much Susie.

      Your comment caused me to reflect and yes those memories do become magnified as we go through life. How lovely that we are able to do this,and of course have the cosy experiences throughout childhood that warrant warm magnification.

      Its a strange thing but making my own clothes and the children’s clothes too, was something I did to help us along our financial path as well as the fact that I enjoyed it so much. But these days it is cheaper to buy them than to make them. I find this sad as we are buying things that are made abroad and those making them are being paid peanuts. .

      My mum had some cracking sayings! 😊 Xx

      Reply

  22. Peter Wells aka Countingducks
    Oct 13, 2013 @ 19:44:34

    This is a great example of a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ poem moving between the weather and your wardrobe, The reference to the sewing machine is brilliant and the italics lines in the 3rd and second to last line are so rich in that dry humour you are perfecting more and more all the time. Lovely stuff

    Reply

  23. greenlightlady
    Oct 17, 2013 @ 16:57:53

    Wow! This is a total heart warmer, Christine! ‘yards and yards of laughing love’ is wonderful, and your ending put a smile on my face.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply

  24. beckarooney
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 18:36:46

    A lovely ode to the simple sewing machine, it shows how poetic you are to write as beautifully about something like this as you do about nature Christine. It reminds me of my mum on Sundays, when she used to spend the afternoon mending our clothes! 🙂 x

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 30, 2013 @ 09:54:54

      Thank you very much Becky! I keep trying to leave this comment but WP has other ideas!

      I can honestly still remember the smell of the oil and how the spools or thread were always tangled, probably because I played with them! Vey warm childhood memories xx

      Reply

      • beckarooney
        Oct 30, 2013 @ 17:30:22

        WP was doing that to me the other night, it wouldn’t let me leave any comments or “like” any pages at all! I love it when everyday things trigger childhood memories like yours, it’s a blessing to have them 🙂 x

  25. Fergiemoto
    Nov 04, 2013 @ 21:56:24

    Wow, beautiful and so creative, Christine! I love it!
    It reminded me of watching my grandfather, a hard working farmer, using an old Singer sewing machine when I was a child. He was the one who used it, rather than my grandmother.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 05, 2013 @ 09:56:07

      Thanks so much Fergie! I do so appreciate your catching up on my blog, particularly with all you have to deal with at the moment!

      It was simply the sight of a tiny patch of blue sky among all the grey that suddenly made me recall what my mum used to say about elephant trousers and I rhink the poem wrote itself!!

      Wow! A man using a sewing machine! That would be quite out of he ordinary here back in the day! I still love those treddle machines 😊 xx

      Reply

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