the exuberance of my aunt

Poem #6 from Small Town Kid

Back to Small Town Kid – Introduction


my father’s sister is getting older
though it took a long time to happen
I can see it in her face now
signs of age and recent strain

all through my small days
she seemed young and full of life
with exuberance held on a leash
lest it escape and betray a lack
of due decorum before the family
or even worse
in front of perfect strangers

looking back now I have a sense
that all the women in the family
moved through life with restraint

perhaps it was a cultural thing

I think small children can see
right through grown-ups
there’s an instinct that operates
to let them know
when someone is hiding laughter
or when there is a genuine bite
awaiting the unwary
and I always felt that my aunt
was less dour than she implied

I can remember
when she married
in the town’s fire station

it looks a very small place now
but with the two engines parked outside
and the station decorated into a hall
with tables and white cloths and balloons
crowded with people making merry
on convenient good spirits
and children chasing scatters of coins
thrown by guests honouring old custom
the station was a splendidness

and there was my aunt in her wedding day glory
looking radiant
dancing a happy waltz
with every man
and with many of the women
and all of the children
each new partner pinning paper money
to her gown
as payment for the privilege

the folk music started
all bouncing piano accordions
and the rapid nimbleness of flying mandolins
rich voices and full harmonies

the dancing changed from waltz
to the darting feet
and swaying circles of the kolo
filling the hall with sound and movement
the crowd roaring songs
from both floor and table top
my aunt leading the joyous
overloud and rapid-fire chorus
of high-pitched squealing
that the women could do so well

ay-yay-yay-yay
ay-yay-yay-yay
yoh! yoh! yoh! yoh!

I’ve never forgotten my aunt
dancing and singing that night
the happy young bride laughing
with her exuberance for once
unrestrained
as I was falling asleep
in the corner of the fire station


© Frank Prem 2009

Small Town Kid Poem 7: you know mums cooking?

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17 thoughts on “the exuberance of my aunt

    • Thanks Tom. Yes, the old traditions were so simple and ‘home made’ weren’t they? I see the changes in so much around us – even the size of a first home for a young couple. Over here, at least, they have to be massive units, whereas not so long ago you started small etc etc

      Anyway, a fond remembrance of half a century ago.

      Liked by 1 person

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