Monday, June 2, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Your Mother, My Daughter, And You, Her Son by Jennifer Compton

Your Mother, My Daughter, And You, Her Son

You don't look like anyone I know, and never have.
But your mother was the same, she always confused me.
She arrived in a hectic rush, as did you, and like you had
set up a beachhead, taken a foothold, in a handy uterus,
uninvited and yet adamant, so all a mother can do is submit.
Both of you loved the rock of a horse cantering underneath.
You are more like your mother than anyone else.

For one moment on the 3D pic they took of you in utero
you were the image of your father, your mother tells me
babies do that because fathers need to know, they lack
confidence. Once the dad is safely hooked the child can
express their own unique understanding of the ancestors.
Nobody ever said babies lacked the rat cunning to live.
Perhaps you are like me and I don’t recognise myself.

Who are you like? I need to pin you to the family tree.
From time to time I catch a facsimile of the sweet smile
a maternal great-uncle would deliver as he bent to press
an oddfellow into my palm. But he was stone-cold bald
and we don’t want that. Or the way you run to enlarge
the circle to include everyone puts me in mind of what
my father would have done. Sometimes, because I am

getting old, I call you the same name that I gave my son.
As if I can reclaim him, pop him back into the stroller,
and out into the beautiful morning and down to the shops.
Not that you are at all like him. I do know your name.
No one else, to my knowledge, has been called Nicholas.
The line branches back to the beginning of everything,
there is no one called Nicholas. That I know of. It’s new.

I wonder how many people in the Antipodes read New Welsh Review.
I'm guessing it's not very many. Anyway, I was asked to draw attention
to the issue my poem was in, and this seemed the best way to do it.
The poem came about because I was talking to a friend on facebook
and she said that grandparenting was such a vital part of many people's
lives, but that one seemed to rarely come upon poems about the role.
And I thought – yeah! I haven't written about it.