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    Edward Pickersgill Edward Pickersgill

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ID: 5089
Date Added: 2002-09-28
Date Modified: 2002-11-19
(g) Blood Mother ? average | Votes: 0
from Binding Twine by Penn Kemp (1984) 
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I sang with the children
in different languages.
Whenever I travelled,
they came with me.

We always came back
to our little blue house
with the rainbow gable
and the inside swing.

My children were not allowed
sugar or meat or much TV
even at other people's homes.

My arrogance was such
I didn't care what
anyone thought. I was
not about to concern
myself with pettiness.

When neighbourhood kids
came to play I gave them
the time I never had for
their mothers. In the end
I was the one not allowed.

Such a close community
if you obeyed the rules
of Home and School.

I was a bad mother
to ignore the code and
stupid to think I could.


The Montessori school asked us
to let the children walk home
independent. I did. You said
I let my children wander back.

Your kids run around shit-
caked and snotty-nosed,
bare-assed in November. You
claim my kids are slovenly.

You say you couldn't reach me
when you phoned for the kids.
It's true. We had no phone then.

Your boy abuses my daughter.
You call it carelessness:
at two she could have said no.

Your boy is deemed "disturbed."
I talk to him, he talks to me
when he can tell you nothing.

Why do you testify to your own
short-comings, the ones
you see as mine?

Teach me what you mean by
what you say.


"She can't just fly off without
a word like that. Who does she
think she is? I took a look at
one of her books, makes no sense."

"Did you see what she's wearing?"

The mothers aim arrows
to ground me. No kites
allowed. They want me
tied to apron strings
like theirs, ready to
role play. No chance
of change. Aloud.

"Well, she can't get away with it."

Opinions handed out over coffee
till I swell like them, stymied.
I called her, I called her, a fat slob.


Liar,liar, pants on fire!

Nothing you say can
harm me. Nothing you think
to convince those who thought
they were my friends.

Who amongst you would not have
evidence equally slanted
against you? Consider it
slander. Consider it.

Sticks and stones.
Brittle bones.

Letters of the law.

I read the children
too many fairy tales -
You call me a witch.

What is at stake here?


The mothers are hounding me.
Bitches, they drag my scent
to earth and buy me deodorant.

They rant, they wring hands.
They blacken their mouths
with fire-fierce chants.

Ladybugladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and
your children will burn.

Protect your own, mad mothers.
Circle round, babes to centre.
Small grey elephants trumpet
amok, stampeding: oh maenads,
where do you run to? Why
run me down? What in me so
scares you?


The mothers are betrayed
into upholding traditions
that keep them in place.

The ritual rape of daughters
that mothers perpetuate.

And the daughters return
of their own accord.

Betrayed by the voice
in their head. The mother
speaks. The daughter

mouths the words as
her own. Compliant.

Where are the sisters who know
what they say to themselves,
to each other.

I am surrounded by

Hollow. Hello.


Changing, I am changing, the lady
whose smile disappeared in tiger's
maw. And the tigers circle round
a tree, change to ghee. No change
of heart. Aw gee, what did you
expect? Tigers and elephants.
Hyenas watch and laughing howl.

The mothers are barking up the wrong tree.
The mothers have wrung me limb to limb.
The mothers have clung to my breaking
bough. Down will come baby, cradle and all.

All for a change of clothes.


We are tigers
what bite!
What bite my mom.
I have no mom.
They ate my mom.

We are tigers
what live inside the mountain.

That is the end of the story.
That is the end of the story.
That is the end.

Now the ghost part.
That's going to be mine.

Don't be scared.
Ghosts aren't real people.

We are a wonderful sight.
I think I could ride down this rope.
We are GIANTS! And we eat

I think I could speak to the giants.
Hello, hello?


Here I hide in darkness,
sullenly squeezing red
pomegranate seeds.
The bright sky shut my eyes.

There was a field of flowers,
viper's bugloss, blue and red.
Their pink buds brighten crimson,
violet and then deep blue.

Sometime I will return.
Not now. Too much hurt
reverberates the will.

The mothers still curse me with sharp
insatiable teeth, hissing through gaps.
His mother. Hers. Her. And likely yours.
The generations swell enraged.

I chew the pomegranate slowly.
No gaps in my teeth. Here I am
young. I am beautiful. Eating
this fruit I am almost inviolate.

I am the unfading flower.
I disappear half a year.
They seek me out. Close.
I am in. Closer. Closet.


The power grows in me.
The will to be different
from them. To effect

I become what I'm called.
I am a witch. Howling.
Rampant the she-bear.
The white sow squealing.

Rage prances, it dances
with jabs neat and sharp.

I don't know for how long
before the red bull roars.

The sweet surge rises,
floods till it's over.

Alfalfa sprouts, mung
I swallow alive, chew
the potent green juice.

Power spent, futile.
Ineffectual. In effect.

Ranting in the wrong ears.


I am as happy as rage
uttering these curses
between clenched teeth,
careful not to direct
words too closely so
as to cause bodily
harm. I wouldn't want
that. I wouldn't want

vengeance on such a
nice day. Sun shines
on frozen bay. Even
the wind has abated.

Last night I danced to
the full moon, bright
through clear icicles
guarding my porch, a
row of jagged teeth.

I let moonlight bless,
caress my huge belly,
swelling not with a
birth but old shit
and menstrual blood.


I will not let them through the door.
I will not let them in.
They are tousling white kittens.
They are dousing the geese in the pond.

Last night she stalked into my house,
fur coat clutched black to her chest.

She asked for my children.
She asked for their things.
She asked for the table
on which sat my typewriter.

She got the children.
She got their things.
She got more writing
than she could have dreamt up.

I kept the table and
the typewriter.

Evil, evil, evil, I mutter
wild at the sight of the teeth
she clasps her cloak by:
white plastic rows between red
grinning lips. A buckled lip.

I shut the door on. Shut your
eyes and shut your mouth.

The dogs are nibbling at my heels.
I will not feed them any more.

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