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Mercy Place Shepparton poetry group a hit with residents

By Liz Mellino

For Mercy Place Shepparton resident Lottie Roe, poetry is a way to share the memories of her past.

For the past six months the 91-year-old has been an eager member of the home's weekly poetry group where members discuss, share and create their own writing.

While Lottie admits she has always had a love for poetry, she said she'd never tried her hand at the art form until recently when a fond childhood memory inspired a piece titled The Big Walnut Tree.

“I've always loved poetry however I have never thought about writing it myself until one of the activities we did here at Mercy was to read poetry from some Australian poets and some others from around the world . . . we've really enjoyed it,” she said.

“Jenny, our leader, suggested that we try to write a poem ourselves, and that was my effort.

“I always loved that tree and since I’ve written it I've spoken to my siblings, and their children remember the tree, too.”

Growing up at Shepparton East, Lottie's father purchased the general store in 1935 when she was just seven years old.

She said she fondly remembered the large walnut tree situated along the fence dividing the property, and said she and her seven siblings regularly played in its towering branches.

“When I thought about writing the piece, I thought I should go back and see the tree and I was surprised to find it,” Lottie said.

“The family that lived next door, the Scotts, they all would come and play in the walnut tree too . . . I was surprised it was still there and I was surprised how well my grandchildren remembered it.”

The home's poetry group has managed to run during the coronavirus restrictions, with residents following social distancing rules while sharing and chatting about their work.

Lottie, who has been a resident at Mercy Place for just over two years, said the group had been the ideal creative outlet for her during this time.

“I’ve really enjoyed when each one of us has read a poem and then we discuss it afterwards, things like the author or the scenery,” she said.

“It's all been very nice to do because the lock-down is driving us all mad.”

The Big Walnut Tree - By Lottie Roe

I can still remember the big walnut tree

And the pleasure it gave to my siblings and me

We climbed in its branches

And played in its shade

We ate of its produce

And thought we were made

It grew in the bank of the old run off drain

So it had no need for any more rain

We all grew up and went our different ways

But I'll remember the fun for the rest of my days

I don't think I will convince my modern-day peers

With their TV games and mountain bikes with so many gears

I should go back to see if it is still there

Or if it had succumbed to life's wear and tear