Afternoon Chat Poem

Afternoon Chat Poem by Sue Ellson at Old Tailem Town Tailem Bend South Australia

Afternoon Chat Poem

By Sue Ellson


As we sat beside the teapot
Sharing stories from the past
We reflected on the moments
That never seemed to last


The highlight reel of life
Of love and joyous moments
Interspersed within insights
From the greatest torments


Somehow the saddest memories
Pushed us beyond inspiration
It created endless energy
For a passion filled direction


It didn’t ease the pain
Or take away our loss
It didn’t fix the wrongs
Or stop us feeling cross


But somehow in the sharing
Of the thoughts, words and feelings
The tea was like an elixir
That allowed us to identify meanings


It didn’t create any solutions
Or stop the tears from falling
It didn’t change anything that happened
Or reduce the eternal scarring


But in that moment of time
Of heartfelt compassionate listening
An opportunity for healing
In recognition of our suffering


Despite the temptation to retaliate
To reclaim our just rewards
We had both chosen a greater path
And fought without any swords


In honour and memory of our losses
We had chosen to help others
To pass on what we had missed
Despite our lingering troubles


To truly be, we had decided
That love was always the answer
Life‘s twists and tribulations
Would never be our master


That is how the journey teaches us
Humbleness, patience and virtue
In every challenge we face
A new lesson for us to get through


For life is ever changing
And the past is not the present
The future hasn’t happened
So there’s no need to lament


As our stories unfolded
The good, the bad, the rest
After a pot of tea and a chat
We can get up and focus on the best


On Tuesday 21 November 2023, I visited ‘Old Tailem Town‘ in Tailem Bend, South Australia. I had driven to Adelaide for a few days to visit my parents, sister and friends and do some work and I was heading to Horsham to stay overnight.

As I wandered around this well-loved tourist attraction and saw so many items I recognised from yesteryear, I was humbled by the impermanence of life.

How so many things that were once ‘everyday’ were now out here in the wilderness and in many cases, slowly rusting away back into dust.

But there was a humanness in this collection. A sense of a person holding on to these memories as a custodian for our collective visions from times gone by.

A cheeky personality and a few reminders of the value of hard work and perseverance.

As I was preparing to leave, the Founder, Peter Squires came out and started reciting his poems.

Peter Squires Founder Old Tailem Town Tailem Bend South Australia

Well that certainly got me in!

He then invited me to sit and have an afternoon chat over tea as he shared snippets from his personal history.

I realised that the death by suicide of his grandson as a result of a breakup with a girlfriend had affected him greatly and it was as if the grief from this significant event had fuelled his ‘passion project.’

I gained a sense of how he collected items as a way to preserve the past.

As a way to remind us all of how far we have come and how fortunate we are to have what we have now.

How often do we forget our modern conveniences of instant hot water, electricity, telecommunications and screen-based items?

But more importantly, how do we recover from the pain of tragedy? Overcome our losses without seeking revenge? Carry on with our grief and other people’s perception that we should be ‘over it by now?’

In poetry, we summarise these reflections and ruminations. We try and make sense of what doesn’t make sense and we hope that when someone else reads it, they may also find comfort and peace from their suffering.

Sometimes we write poetry to sort our thoughts. To craft them in a way to help other people understand us. For me, I am driven to make sense of the world in which I live and to ease the load for the reader.

I know I cannot remove the pain. Sometimes, I wish I had a magic wand that could.

I met a woman, Lillian, many years ago and she seemed to have the right words for any occasion. Oh, how I long to have her wisdom and foresight to provide words of comfort, courage and compassion.

But in my chat with Peter Squires, he ultimately said that it all boils down to ‘love.’

After all, love is timeless.

An afternoon chat with a cup of tea reminds us of what it is to be real.

In the real world.

Thank you Peter Squires for the afternoon chat in your little part of the ‘real world!’

With love, Sue Ellson 🙂

Photo is of the exit sign at Old Tailem Town in Tailem Bend, South Australia on 21 November 2023.

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