Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother’s Day Poetry: Moms and Daughters Speak

 For Talking Writing by Carol Dorf

Mother’s Day requires poems. This selection of poems is from work that is available online, so the first stanza or so of each is here along with a link to the entire poem. Two of these poems, Nellie Wong’s “Mama, Come Back” and Lucille Clifton’s “[if mama/could see],” are from the child’s point of view. The others are from the mother’s point of view. However, in this ever-shifting dynamic, in a number of the poems there are shifts and turns. Enjoy!

Mama, Come Back  
by Nellie Wong

Mama, come back.
Why did you leave
now that I am learning you?
The landlady next door
how she apologizes
for my rough brown skin
to her tenant from Hong Kong
as if I were her daughter,
as if she were you.


[if mama / could see]

by Lucille Clifton
if mama
could see
she would see   
lucy sprawling   
limbs of lucy
decorating the
backs of chairs
lucy hair
holding the mirrors up   
that reflect odd   
aspects of lucy.

To a Daughter Leaving Home

by Linda Pastan

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you ....

Iva's Pantoum   
by Marilyn Hacker
We pace each other for a long time.
I packed my anger with the beef jerky.
You are the baby on the mountain. I am
in a cold stream where I led you.


The Nursery 

by Fanny Howe

The baby
         was made in a cell
in the silver & rose underworld.
Invisibly prisoned
         in vessels & cords, no gold
for a baby; instead
eyes, and a sudden soul, twelve weeks
old, which widened its will.

Fruit Of Stories 
by Carol Dorf

Demeter and her daughter Persephone:
every woman tells this story with her mother.
Temptation of the thin-skinned juice-filled seeds,
and following that God back to Hades,
wrapping  arms around his leathery waist,
as the motorcycle shoots through time and space.

We return to mother with our children,
but she puts the plates of soup in front of them,
while we peel fruit, and rinse scummy glasses.


Toth Farry 

by Sharon Olds
In the back of the charm-box, in a sack, the baby   
canines and incisors are mostly chaff,   
by now, split kernels and acicular down, no   
whole utensils left: half   
an adz; half a shovel, in its broken   
handle a marrow well of the will   
to dig and bite. And the enamel hems ...

Kill School 

by Fran Richey
That was the summer he rappelled
down mountains on rope

that from a distance looked thin
as the dragline of a spider,

barely visible, the tension
he descended

into the made-up
state of Pineland

with soldiers from his class ...


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