Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tuesday Poem: "My Mother and Lucille Clifton Have Tea" by Parneshia Jones

When I get to where I’m going
I want the death of my children explained to me.

                                             —Lucille Clifton

They meet over tea and potato chips.
Brown and buttermilk women,
hipped and hardened,
legs uncrossed but proper
still in their smiles;
smiles that carry a sadness in faint creases.
A sadness they will never be without.

One asks the other,
“What do they call a woman who has lost a child?”

The other sighs between sips of lukewarm tea.
There is no name for us.

“No name? But there has to be a name for us.
We must have something to call ourselves.”

Surely, history by now and all the women
who carry their babies’ ghosts on their backs,
mothers who wake up screaming,
women wide awake in their nightmares,
mothers still expected to be mothers and human,
women who stand under hot showers weeping,
mothers who wish they could drown standing up,
women who can still smell them—hear them,
the scent and symphony of their children,
deep down in the good earth.

“Surely, history has not forgotten to name us?”

No woman wants to bear
whatever could be the name for this grief.
Even if she must bear the grief for all her days,
it would be far too painful to be called by that name.

“I’ve lost two, you know.”
Me too.
“I was angry at God, you know.”
Me too.
“I stopped praying but only for a little while,
and then I had no choice. I had to pray again.
I had to call out to something that was no longer there.
I had to believe God knew where it was.”

“I fear death no longer. It has taken everything.
But should I be? Should I be afraid of what death has taken?
That it took and left no name?”

The other who sighs between sips of lukewarm tea
leans over and kisses the cheek of the one still with questions.
She whispers…

No, you don’t have to be afraid.
Death is no more scary than the lives we have lived
without our babies, bound to this grief
with no name.

by Parneshia Jones

For more information about the poet, Parneshia Jones, see:


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Tuesday Poem: "Autumn in South West, Western Australia" by Andrew M. Bell

Marybrook, south-western Western Australia Photo Credit: Andrew M. Bell

The grass slakes its summer thirst,
fatting its straw bones, 
chlorophyll returning to its cheeks 
with the vigour of ruddy-faced children
released into the playground.
An end to Cinemascope blue sky
as variations of grey creep over us 
like mood swings. 
Out along this rutted road,
the rain gathers in obstinate puddles
that mirror the discontent of earth 
waiting to turn into mud.

Swallows glide beside my vehicle 
like a fighter escort, 
banking sharply to engage insects, 
the bounty from my wheels.
Like a petulant child, the mist 
hangs on to the Darling Range.

Prawners keep their vigil along the Peel Inlet
while the Murray and Serpentine rivers
hold back their water
like vain men holding in their stomachs.
When the pretence lapses,
more than two bellies will be full.

At Halls Head, the ocean rolls up,
unattended and unannounced.
With only a few fishing boats to play with, 
the sea is the colour of sadness.

Across the vibrant parkland, 
trees and shrubs are waking up
while on the ramshackle jetties
the pelicans, herons and cormorants
are basking in that most precious commodity,
Autumn sunshine.