Tuesday, 5 April 2016

pleased (poem)

my mother's yellow bed-jacket, worn on the only times she was ever in hospital (a record she would have been pleased and proud to know she held until her death). She was only ever in hospital for good reasons - to have her babies. Seven in all.


(for my brother Alan, number six)

First there were the days of no memory
to speak of, when the seven of us; Mum, Dad,
my two sisters, two brothers and me;
just were. As it was in the beginning
so it shall be forevermore.

Then the day I saw my mother
standing at the bench peeling spuds
from a green basin with black
marks where the enamel
had been chipped

and wearing her black-and-yellow
checked smock,
I was astonished to know
that, Ah-ha, I suddenly knew. I didn't know how 
I knew, but I did. I knew exactly 

what this meant. Mum was going to have a baby.
And clever me had caught her out.
(It never entered my head
that Mum was the clever one).
I just thought, 'baby', not even

'another baby' (for this was the sixth
of an eventual seven). I thought
I was smart to have found out
Mum's secret and felt pleased. As if
this was going to be just another

batch of fluffy chickens
in a shoe-box,
bought from Todd's Auction Rooms
in Invercargill,
a fluffy heap of chittering,
squirming pale-yellow

on the formica kitchen table
and us five kids crowding round
smelling all that warm
wonder. Yes. That
was just what it was going to be like.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Poem number three April 5th, for NaPoWriMo.

Dear Reader,

Today I have battled through a sinus headache to produce this poem. 

Much like my mother battled through debilitating, chronic morning sickness (that lasted six months or more for each of her seven babies - not counting the one miscarriage). Somehow, compared to writing poetry and having seven babies, I think my mother wins on the suffering stakes.

It's almost two years since Mum died and I miss her more and more. I miss both my parents and will for the rest of my life. It's just the way of it.

Writing poetry helps. Immensely.


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