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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.

By Judith Wright.

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