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Rhona Aitken

Such a lovely lady. Not young;
slow in all she does
but competent
and loving her favourite past-time

having people to tea.

Her rosy face peers cheerfully around the door
as we are summoned.
There are flowered paper napkins.
The cloth, hand-embroidered.
A fuchsia posy stands pretty by gingerbread.
Egg sandwiches
no crusts sport sprigs of mint,
fresh from the garden, with aromatic cucumber
and thin-sliced tomato. A silver knife sits
ready to slice softly into fresh jam sponge.

We sit happily in her bijou lounge,
content with the timeless chime of cup on saucer,
teaspoon sinking into sugar before the gentle  'plonk'
of her tea-pot put to rest on its Delft tile.

The tea brewing in our china pot is Lady Gray,
scents of bergamot and lemon balm filling the air.
No-one is hurried.
Some linger on egg and cucumber,
others munch contentedly on gingerbread.
It is a happy hour
the pleasure of her feast
shining from her sparkling eyes.

This afternoon, apropos of nothing, standing
at the bus stop
I hear that she has died.
It seems impossible.
Tea-time will never be the same.
How that little lady will be missed.
I wrote this poem in the present tense.
I simply could not bring myself to write it in the past.

© by Rhona Aitken.
Used with the author’s permission.


 Rhona Aitken (1925 - 2018) lived all over the world during the course of her life. The author of The Memsahib's Cookbook, which she wrote while living in India and for which she also provided all of the illustrations, Rhona and her husband, Gordon, owned and operated a hotel in the U.K. for many years. After that venture, they bought an old-world house and turned it into a thriving restaurant. Rhona had three children and seven grandchildren, all of whom inherited her love for travel. For the last few years, she lived in a nursing home in Exmouth, England, where she wrote poetry, painted, shared Your Daily Poem every morning with her fellow residents, and continued to travel—on her 3-wheeler—as long as she was able.


Post New Comment:
Just lovely!!!
Posted 07/28/2015 09:06 AM
Lori Levy:
Makes me want to have tea at her table, especially with the "scents of bergamot and lemon balm in the air."
Posted 07/26/2015 07:59 PM
Mary Lou Taylor:
A poem I read twice. And a happy hour so different from what comes to mind for us. A British poem with a fine ending.
Posted 07/26/2015 12:43 PM
Yes a fine poem with a string end. I enjoyed "It is a happy hour – the pleasure of her feast shining from her sparkling eyes."
Posted 07/26/2015 09:54 AM
As someone for whom tea is a meditation best shared, I see myself here, as well. May I, too be remembered in the present.
Posted 07/26/2015 08:56 AM
sweet tribute
Posted 07/26/2015 08:45 AM
A gentle and loving poem.
Posted 07/26/2015 06:09 AM
Alarie Tennille:
A sweet tribute – my version of Dorothy was a grandmotherly woman in the next apartment when I was in college. She invited anyone who passed by to come in for lunch or supper. When I spent a week with her, I had three lunches in one day because of the drop-by guests.
Posted 07/26/2015 02:24 AM

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