Request to a Year by Judith Wright

If the year is meditating a suitable gift, 

I should like it to be the attitude 

of my great- great- grandmother, 

legendary devotee of the arts, 
who having eight children 

and little opportunity for painting pictures, 

sat one day on a high rock 

beside a river in Switzerland 
and from a difficult distance viewed 

her second son, balanced on a small ice flow,drift down the current toward a waterfall 

that struck rock bottom eighty feet below, 
while her second daughter, impeded, 

no doubt, by the petticoats of the day, 

stretched out a last-hope alpenstock 

(which luckily later caught him on his way). 
Nothing, it was evident, could be done; 

And with the artist’s isolating eye 

My great-great-grandmother hastily sketched the scene. 

The sketch survives to prove the story by. 
Year, if you have no Mother’s day present planned, 

Reach back and bring me the firmness of her hand.

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