It’s Thursday and I should be doing prep for my upcoming assessments but instead I’m waist-deep in poetry and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Tonight I’m going to share a selection of poems featured in anthologies published by Nine Pens Press this year. Each anthology features work by three poets, so I will share a poem from each poet from each anthology – does any of that make sense? I hope so!
The first anthology is All About Our Mothers and features poetry from Vasiliki Albedo, Mary Mulholland and Simon Maddrell. “All About Our Mothers is the collaboration of three poets exploring their relationships with their mothers, and the complex feelings around forgiveness, grief and love” (Nine Pens 2022). I hope you enjoy the poems I have selected and you can purchase a copy of the anthology here.
‘Therapy Cat’ by Vasiliki Albedo
The lame cub a lioness left to the eagles took me
back to my eighth birthday and the analyst’s gift
of a piebald kitten. She called it a therapy cat but
my mum confined it to the second-floor balcony:
IT’LL RUIN THE HOUSE, IT’LL RUIN THE HOUSE.
Each night when I slept she’d toss it out, and each morning
I’d pick it out of a pot in the garden, limping and frightened:
LET IT GO, IT WANTS TO GO BACK TO ITS MOTHER.
At thirteen, I came home from school to find
my room arranged into my brother’s:
I THREW OUT YOUR THINGS, STAY AT YOUR FATHER’S.
For years I dreamed therapy cat had morphed
into a winged lioness, her limbs whole and inviolate.
We’d meet in my room and ride into a fictive sunburst.
And in that light, there was nowhere that wasn’t home.
‘Mother’s Child’ by Mary Mulholland
Mother is a sea-fish, goes deep without knowing
how deep, to her it is natural, it is home.
In her dark places Mother dreams in colour.
When I ask how she swims through deep dark waters,
she says, My! what difficult questions you ask, Child.
Mother doesn’t know she’s a fish.
She is born of people who swam the Atlantic,
braved high seas, carried on currents and tides,
ended up on foreign silt, greeted
by blue butterflies the size of a hand,
cornflower ribbons in the air.
Mother likes ribbons and bows.
Once she gave me a ribboned dress
and I refused to wear it.
Oh my! You’re not like me, Child.
Mother knows some fish fly. She fears flying,
has no wish to try lest a pelican scoops her,
swallows her whole; she keeps deep out of sight.
When I tell her the dilution of salt
in the sea is four times the strength of tears,
she says, Child, the things you think of!
When Mother is still, the century palms
look more vivid on water than on land.
She lives in a heat-haze where nothing is clear or dry.
When I tell her this she says,
My! what nonsense you talk, Child.
And when I ask her why she never calls me
by the name she gave me, she looks puzzled,
Child, is what you’ll always be.
‘Rabbit-shocked’ by Simon Maddrell
Leaving at midnight with Penny (the Lurcher, not the
Mother) with headlamp, car battery & bailing string
spotting rabbits until one freezes the lamp’s gaze.
Nearly 3am and six startled eyes run around the field,
the rabbit escapes.
Penny wanted to sleep, as nothing was going to die soon
the Mother’s nurse advised him to leave the green floors
& curtains and to grab a torch & batteries for his flight.
At 3am along a remote Manx road
Death hits a rabbit with its offside headlight.
Back home, he slits the unlucky rabbit pit to throat,
an errant knife spills bile over a life not yet ready,
its innards grasped and dropped to the side.
At 3am along a remote Kenyan road
News hits a man with the death of his Mother.
Back home, he peels the gutted rabbit, rolls it in flakes
of salt, its head now enclosed, skin hanging, like
a Mother’s fur coat, its warmth for someone else.
At 3am the death of the Mother was nothing natural
like being hunted by a cancerous lamp.
Back in the ward, a doctor, too tired even to drive,
pushed more relief than her pain could take.
Back in a room, the man kissed her red lipstick,
a familiar taste laid out in heroin chic.
Albedo, V., Mulholland, M. & Maddrell, S. (2022) All About Our Mothers. North Pennines: Nine Pens Press
Nine Pens (2022) All About Our Mothers [online]. Available from https://ninepens.co.uk/aaom [14 April 2022]