Mon | May 25, 2020

Meeting Ground – Mother’s Day Edition

Published:Sunday | May 10, 2020 | 12:06 AM

Written from, different angles and spaces, the poems below testify to the great force of motherhood, which nurtures, strengthens, and manifests love. Happy Mother’s Day – Ann-Margaret Lim

Words

My mother loved words. Not necessarily

in sentences or speeches. Just words.

She read the dictionary like a bedside book.

She taught me words while I watched her

at the crossword puzzle, her relief

from drudgery. And now this

delectable, mouth-filling word

I cannot teach her: metastases,

“multiple metastases”. The word

glows a guilty secret through

the large brown envelope lying on

the back seat with the X-rays and

the radiologist’s report. She sits

rigid with pain, too proud to ask

if there is any word of relief.

In the silence between us

you can hear the metastases multiply.

Edward Baugh (Jamaica).

Black Sand: Peepal Tree Press (UK): 2013

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At Sea

I drift in a small craft

and write mother poems at sea.

She’s the flounder that escapes

my handmade fishing rod

so I weave a net at night

from the three memories I have of her.

And I’m just seeing it now – no, not

the picture of a dead Sylvia Plath

half out of the oven,

no, not that

but the similarity:

the obsession.

I write mother poems at sea,

drift and hope for her,

but then, my daughter –

the anchor.

Ann-Margaret Lim (Jamaica)

Kingston Buttercup: Peepal Tree Press (UK): 2016

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A Portable Paradise

And if I speak of Paradise,

then I’m speaking of my grandmother

who told me to carry it always

on my person, concealed, so

no one else would know but me.

That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.

And if life puts you under pressure,

trace its ridges in your pocket,

smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,

hum its anthem under your breath.

And if your stresses are sustained and daily

get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,

hostel or hovel – find a lamp

and empty your paradise onto a desk:

your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.

Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope

of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.

Roger Robinson (Born in Trinidad & Tobago, lives in the UK)

A Portable Paradise: Peepal Tree Press (2019): Winner of T.S. Elliot Prize 2020 & Ondaatje Prize 2020