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Margaret Owen Ruckert

is there more to worry than lunch

well before advertising shouted fresh
a woman down Hunter St decorates her window
as purveyor of edibles, proprietress of freshness
she has no telephone to ring for supplies
food webs of people seek her out
carting fuel on foot, she's a cold expert
with the iceman and milkman
with the bread man and pastry cook
she learns a crumb or two hundred
a fruit barrow man throws a few plum jokes

what if they don't turn up, what if
the bread man's sick, the daily bread
of the office workers, their ham sandwich
can you cut that with mustard?
what if I'm sick, the thought is dismissed
her only real worry is – constant worry
and this is dangerous thinking for a
sole proprietress, existing by words
word of mouth, food by the mouthfuls
dangerous as running out of bread
with no phone, fax or email in 1937

Source: Interview with B. Irene Owen 3/28/06

Margaret Owen Ruckert’s “is there more to worry than lunch” was first published in Cordite 28: Secret Cities (2008). The guest poetry editor for this issue was David Prater.

Margaret Owen Ruckert

As a child, Margaret wrote award-winning poetry but the era of space travel launched her into a B. Sc. at Sydney University, Australia. She taught science in high schools; then, moving into TAFE colleges, became a Science lecturer for over 20 years. A columnist for the college newsletter, she also wrote articles on educational pedagogy and was a committee member of a local writing group for many years, so poetry was never abandoned. Her mature-age Master’s degree included a Distinction in Creative Writing and this has encouraged her wide-ranging poetics. Autobiography, history and social commentary all feature in her writings. Following an early redundancy, she retrained and currently tutors children with learning difficulties.

In 2007, she won the National Poetry Competition of the Society of Women Writers, NSW. Her poetry and articles appear in major literary journals, anthologies, magazines and newspapers.

The poem “is there more to worry than lunch” features her grandmother, Mrs B. Bussey, a widow migrant to Australia just as it was beginning to recover from the Depression. This poem, together with other poems exploring food, is found in her book You Deserve Dessert, available from her website.

A Typical Day At Work 

My typical day depends on the day except that most days I play organ (I was a church organist for many years) and walk to the shops. Monday: at my desk for whatever eventuates. Tuesday: give a workshop once a month to a local writing group. Wednesday: in 2012, I will be part of the Australian Poetry Café Poet program and write poems in a local café. Thursday: tutor. Friday: shop. Being semi-retired, I have a lifetime of resolutions to catch up on. There are poems on old train tickets. Secrets inside envelopes. When will I tackle a pile of poems sitting there on top of a filing cabinet? Today is still young. She is beckoning me to have courage. Take life poem by poem. Consider them. Care for them. Hope they find lodgings with a poet person like yourself. When words have wings, they not only fly: they sing.