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Woman and Child
(1956 - / United Kingdom)

Woman and Child

They listen to the myna birds dicker in the grass.
The child's blue shoes are caked with
garden dirt. When he runs, she sees the antics
of a pair of wrens. She works the garden,

a pot of rusting gardenias has given off its ales
and infused the danker germinations of her
grief. She watches her son chase pigeons,
kick at the leaves piled high. Now, a magpie

adds to his cascades of laughter as he runs with
the hose, pours a fine spray, happy to be giving
to the grass this silver courtship. She sighs,
watches the drops settle in. Today, who

can explain the sadness she feels. Surely this
day is to be treasured: the sun out, the breeze
like a cat's tongue licking a moon of milk;
her son expending himself in small, public

bursts, happy among clover where bees hover,
and unfold centrefolds of nectar. Today,
who can explain the heaviness in her head, as if
all her worries were tomes toward a larger work,

one she knows she will never finish, but to which
she must keep adding, thought by thought.
She sweeps the petals, smells their russet imprint.
Soon dusk will come with an envoy of smoke

and her son outlast her patience by a rose.
Already he is tiring, puling at the flowers.
It won't be long before they'll go in, listen
to the jug purr comfort. He'll sleep and she'll

lie back, or get up to unhook the cry of her cat
from the wire door. Now, a few cicadas are idling,
giving each other the gun and a cockatoo calls,
a haughty felon. She sighs, knowing she won't

escape her mood today, the turned earth
or its rank persuasions; her child's petulance
flaring like an orchid, or a cockatoo's unruly crest.
Today, she knows she will need to consider

her unhappiness, of what she is a prisoner - if not
the loss of hope's particulars. Her son soaks
the path, rinses the sky of its featureless blue.
He is giving that water, now, to everything.

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Comments (1)

Mother and child. Thanks for sharing this poem with us.