Monday, April 12, 2010

Poem 12: Mother's Words

Hearing the label of obstreperous, 
I didn't conform,
but investigated other potent words.

Dogged by,
"You're so off the beam,"
I looked for balance
and wondered about sunbeams
and how no one can really see light,
just what bumps into it.

Even if, like light, I'm invisible,
a particle or a wave,
I bump into things
that matter,
so I'd say 
Mom's words 
were effective.

© 2010 by Kathryn Feigal. All rights reserved. 

I realize this is not a poem, but I've hit the wall. may I offer this poem by Lee Upton 
from the New England Review, Volume 27, #1/2006

Undid in the Land of Undone

All the things I wanted to do and didn't
took so long.
It was years of not doing.

You can make an allusion here to Penelope,
if you want.
See her up there in that high room undoing her art?

But enough about what she didn't do -
not doing
was what she did. Plucking out

the thread of intimacy in the frame.
If I got to
know you that would be

- something. So let's make a toast to the long art
of lingering.
We say the cake is done,

but what exactly did the cake do?
The things undid
in the land of undone call to us

in the flames. What I didn't do took
an eternity -
and it wasn't for lack of trying.


  1. I don't agree with you, Cookie. I'd say that's poetry, or certainly poetic. Once again I salute you for your wonderful care of her now. It wasn't all sunshine and roses for you growing up. You internalized plenty of the negative messages that must have been stated repeatedly for them to have taken root so deeply. Sometime I'd like to hear how you approached mothering. I know I sometimes consciously asked myself, "What would Mom do with this?" And I went in the opposite direction.

  2. No matter how you label it, it's still a delightful entry.

  3. Your post title today 'Mother's Words' struck a chord ... I cared for my mother during the last five years of her life. I wrote to help ease my pain and sadness. She suffered with Alzheimer's and Lewy Body diseases. Three months before she passed away she fell and fractured her hip. She was hospitalized for the repair. As she lay ~ heavily sedated, mind already so demented ~ a lovely nurse came into her room. After she left I commented to Mother "wasn't she a pretty thing?" Mother replied simply "beauty is as beauty does." The most lucid thing she had said in weeks.

    I sat there and wrote this.

    Mother always said' beauty is as beauty does' .. that dreaded admonition haunting me through the awkward years. following me as I searched for my worth ... through all my stumbling missteps. A silent reminder 'beauty is as beauty does.' Mother was this.
    A shining example of everlasting beauty.

  4. I like the way you've juxtaposed the images with your words. It really pulls me in. Thanks for sharing.

  5. LESLIE - You're right about repeated messages, but I'm a big girl now and have worked through the issues that blocked certain areas of my progress. I commend you for being wise enough to recognize the parenting skills you wouldn't emulate.

    As for mothering, you'd have to ask my children. I raised them for years with consistent values gleaned through my Mormon upbringing. I think it was good. When things fell apart in that marriage, they had tremendous challenges to face and I'm sure they're still dealing with the fallout.

    I'm inviting you to read this post by the stepson of my ex's sister. It had me sobbing in my chair here because I know the woman and her goodness. It's lengthy, but it speaks to the kind of mothering I admire:
    Earth Angels

  6. JONAS - I'm always delighted when you're delighted.

    HELEN - I'm having kind of a weepy day (see Earth Angel in my Leslie response) so your comment set me off again. I hope you'll post those beautiful words on your blog for all to see.

    NUMINOSITY - I'm so glad for the images because I was having a hard time coming up with words today.

  7. I don't agree with you that this isn't a poem. I think it is a poem that needs a few tweaks, but how many don't? I love the connection you make between the poetic 'I' and light. And the pictures are marvellous.

    We have a poet here called Tom Leonard, he is brilliant with language, and he recently said that he was trying to write a poem without words. I have no idea how he is going to do that, but a poem made entirely of images could be good to play with. Especially for someone feeling a little bit wearied by this month long quest, and who clearly has a good eye.

  8. I forgot to say: the Lee Upton poem is fab. I must write it out so I can learn from it.

  9. kass, this qualifies as a poem. the images add to the poetry. it's beautiful. i connect to this one. sounds like we had some similar experiences. to say i was out of sync is putting it mildly!
    off the beam, well, there are lots of beams of light out there. like many others, we just rode the beams less traveled!

  10. It wants very much to be a poem, I think. I often think about light and matter in painting. Matter is nothing, light is everything. But you can still stub your toe on matter when the lights are off.

  11. Kass ... your words fall well ...

  12. Hmm... back in front of my puter, twenty to two in the morning.

    Purely subjective comment on my part... I think the images drown out the text.

    I copied the text (up to "So I'd say your words are effective") into a blank document, without the images.
    With bare minimum of juggling with spacing and line breaks I got something that I thought was more obviously a prose poem. With all these images, it slightly feels like the words are captions; when in fact, together, they spin out their own imagery which works perfectly well.

    I think you'll find this wall to have been built of matchsticks, I'd go further to say that it wasn't wall constructed, this wall in front of you... you'll bust through it in no time flat. Oh wall, I guess I'll come up with a better pun next time. I hope these puns aren't too hard to sWALLow?

  13. ERYL - You know, I didn't even realize there was a poetic "I" in there. I wrote it quite fast and now it doesn't make sense. I think I meant to say "it's (the light) bumped into some pretty incredible things.

    I'm glad you like the Lee Upton poem. I read it on Poetry Daily 4 years ago and saved it.

    STANDING - Well put. I like thinking of riding the light. I glow to the wave of a different summer. I'm tired, can you tell?

    JULIE - You're right, even if light is invisible, particle or wave, it has the stuff that makes life bearable. Hey, I like that. I think I might put it in the poem.

    S. ETOLE - You're kind. I'm struggling right now with words.

    ALESA - I love your buns, oops, I mean puns. A much-needed laugh today. Thanks for tearing down the wall of photos and having more consideration for my words than I did. I'm just so tired. I need the pause that refreshes. Anybody have a coke?

  14. ALESA - I changed the last stanza. I'm wondering what else needs tweaking. I like doing poemophoty on my blog. That's a term I made up. I like mixing photos into my poems, but I can see how they might be distracting.

  15. Yeah I was about to say, you've never sampled my baking skills.

    If you like it you should do it. Mine is only a strange and shallow amateur's opinion. And the sole person to comment in that direction. Also I never meant to gainsay mixing imagery and text... It was just in the organization and maybe the balance...

    This may be a tired question, one you may have already long ago answered, but I find it one worth asking one's self. Why do we write? Only once we have our answer should we write accordingly, or worry about how we are going to do it. My goal is to first entertain myself and secondly entertain my potential reader. I have friends who write solely for themselves. I know some people (no friends of mine) who write solely for the readers. The way we write will reflect why we write.
    Sorry for rambling. 3am... Time to call it a night. Cheers.

  16. Kass,
    The photos were the poem for me. "A thing like a wave, in effect." Poemophoty? Brilliance.

  17. Ah, it wasn't a poem when it left you, but the words had other ideas! Of course, it's a poem - and a bloody good one! Super post.

  18. Poetry is nobody's business except the poet's, and everybody else can f@# off. ~Philip Larkin

    I love your work and the pics!


  19. It's poetry. You can call it poetic prose, if you'd like.

    I grew up with a mother who enjoyed reading the dictionary and used fabulous words to torture us with. "Obstreperous" was one of them and every time I read it ANYWHERE I laugh and think of my childhood.

    I love what you said about light. Genius!!!

  20. We're probably never going to get off the kick of what's a poem, Kass, but this one works beautifully fr me too Kass.

    As Eryl suggests maybe a few tweaks, if you wanted, but the fun to me is in the initial composition and after that I like to let these things rest for a bit.

  21. ALESA - You ask such good questions and I'll admit here that I write partially because of my obsessive, compulsive nature. Also, I went through a dry period - try 20 years, where I felt paralyzed, muted because of traumas in my life. I turned to theater, someone else's writing to facilitate expressions. Now death is my inspiration.

    AJ - "A thing like a wave." Did I say that or did you? We both did, in different directions. That's the nature of writing. You've gotten meaning from your filters and experience and now those words are totally yours.

    DAVE - I love the British accent in your remarks. Thanks.

    GABI - Damn rights!

    P.J. When do we get to see examples of your mother's writing?

    ELISABETH - All of these "poems" will be resting for more than a bit, I believe. I have no other aspirations for them.

  22. Love, love, love the undid and undone. Love your response to your mother's words. How could she have known you'd stretched so much to heal and understand, and become so inspirational? I'm grateful for your mom's words to you for bringing you to this place in time, healing and bringing wholeness to others.


It's nice to know you've stopped by. Thanks.