Mon | Jun 14, 2021

Meeting Ground – honouring and celebrating mothers

Published:Sunday | May 9, 2021 | 12:18 AM

Let Love Be My Guide – Motherhood can be both difficult and beautiful. This painting is a reflection on the moments of beauty and intimacy that we find, and how they remain blooming always in memory, strengthening and guiding us through the challenging
Let Love Be My Guide – Motherhood can be both difficult and beautiful. This painting is a reflection on the moments of beauty and intimacy that we find, and how they remain blooming always in memory, strengthening and guiding us through the challenging moments.
Sanctuary - This painting was done alongside a series of letters that I was writing to my unborn son while I was preparing for his birth. It is a meditation on the intensity of the third trimester of pregnancy, the need for peace and grounding that comes i
Sanctuary - This painting was done alongside a series of letters that I was writing to my unborn son while I was preparing for his birth. It is a meditation on the intensity of the third trimester of pregnancy, the need for peace and grounding that comes in the final days and hours: a visualization of roots and waves, and a kind of unshakeable inner stillness.
Rubra is an exploration of the intimacy and vulnerability of the postpartum period, the newness of the body and the tenderness and almost holiness of those first days with a newborn. The background pattern was taken from the nightgown I gave birth in.
Rubra is an exploration of the intimacy and vulnerability of the postpartum period, the newness of the body and the tenderness and almost holiness of those first days with a newborn. The background pattern was taken from the nightgown I gave birth in.
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In the collection of poems below, we hear from daughters in awe of their mothers, sons missing theirs, and mothers taking us into their childbearing confidences, as Meeting Ground expresses gratitude on Mother’s Day. – Ann-Margaret Lim

Mother in the Morning

Mother sips tea in her garden on mornings,

abandoning the kitchen that echoes with breakfast,

lunch kits, laces untied, and the dripping faucet.

She sits on a cracked footstool in silence

As the heat from the teacup rises,

whispers warm, comforting secrets

only she can understand.

There are sharp things in the ground

and her hands are soft

but she never wears gloves.

She is not afraid of the damp, dark earth

with its shards of buried glass and crawling creatures.

She has planted hope,

seen it grown tall.

When my mother’s hands are in the dew-damp earth

and she is fragile in the morning light,

sharp things are buried in her,

and I realize how the fluorescent kitchen light dims her,

hides the secret flower she is growing

that only blooms when she does.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné (Trinidad and Tobago), Doe Songs: Peepal Tree Press, 2018

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A Portrait of a Mother in Fall

we tie a knot on everything that bends

and only our necks are free of knots

the sky like the soggy feathers of a bird

that’s sleeping or most likely dead

and dinner comes

exchanges food

for our time

she used to bend over her teacup brim

as if it were the edge of the universe

and she would sip and pause

and sip and pause

and never talk

of what she might have seen

and it is comforting to know

when far away;

the end of the world

is in our mother’s hands.

Valzhyna Mort (poet from Belarus living in the US), Factory of Tears, Copper Canyon Press, 2008

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My Belly

Facing the Mississippi,

My belly wasn’t noticeable.

In the 75-dollar-a-night-motel

My belly wasn’t noticeable.

Next to the statue of Jose’ Martí

That we bumped into by accident

My belly wasn’t noticeable.

In William Faulkner’s house

Where I was left cold and stunned

My belly was nothing.

At seven degrees centigrade

It seems that bellies hide.

Crab soup

Was the only thing I could have

And my belly didn’t even notice.

Dipping a tepid beignet

In a cup from café Du Monde,

My belly stuck out a little

But nobody saw it.

And on the grass at the park

Savouring grapefruits as big as footballs

I heard a murmur from on high.

It was Mahalia Jackson

Telling some gossip to the trumpet player:

“Did you see that Louis?

The woman who just passed

Has two hearts instead of one.”

Legna Rodríquez Iglesias: Cuba, The Sea Needs No Ornament: Peepal Tree Press: 2020 ( original poem is in Spanish, translated into English by editors Loretta Collins Klobah & Maria Grau Perejoan)

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The Fifth Month

The fifth month my body splits

like a fallen seed pod.

It is too early for this.

I am barefaced and unprepared

as an island,

my fear sudden and tidal.

To keep you, I shrink

so that God will not find me.

I hide my heart

in the birdseed and the boiling-pots.

I let them bind my insides

with wire and thread.

Your father hacks off

two years of his hair.

We name you, unname you,

then name you again.

No sign must appear

but the whorled seashell

of your forming spine,

no sound but the dull hoofbeat

of your small heart.

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné ( Trinidad and Tobago), Doe Songs: Peepal Tree Press, 2018

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The haircut

I don’t remember my first haircut

but I remember who did it.

My mother, in those days, was spry

her clippers singing a complicated melody

setting loose frayed edges,

making room for growth, like

cutting grass, like cutting cane, my head

tenderly in her hands, black hair slipping

between fingers. The years.

She can’t cut my hair now

and to this man in the noisy salon

my head might as well be a coconut

nothing precious, nothing he hasn’t seen,

salt and pepper threads falling to the

tired floor, his blade

a cutlass thrashing.

Andre Bagoo (Trinidad and Tobago) Pitch Lake, Peepal Tree Press, 2017

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for Marie, my mother, in memorium 1912 – 1998

Through crackling air each Sunday

for twenty-one years

while women mouthed Hail Mary

and farm bachelors smoked Woodbines

outside chapel doors

I drove wet miles to the village phone

fed shillings

then bright ten pence coins.

We talked of time

and your grandchildren

or the knitted socks in the post

(which I wear still)

my small successes

and my then manageable griefs.

Now the phone rings out

or another might answer

she no longer lives here

(as if I could forget).

No longer here but in

twin graphs of memory

lapse and sleep.

Gerry Loose (Scotland) Printed on Water, New & Selected Poems, Shearsman, 2007