Upper Kentmere Valley, photographed January, 2011, Peter Bettess
Pete Bettess - Mothers
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Mothers

I never got on particularly well with my mother, although she had many admirable qualities, and in many ways life dealt her a very poor hand, which she played very well. Life kept the most rotten trick to the end, when she died of an illness that could easily have been prevented. Now that I am in my late sixties, I am very impressed with her obtaining a 2i degree at the age of 71. .

C.L.M. - John Masefield

This poem is about C.L.M., the mother of John Masefield. Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire, to Caroline and George Masefield, a solicitor. His mother died giving birth to his sister when Masefield was only six, and he went to live with his aunt. His father died soon after following a mental breakdown. More details are given in Wikipedia. The early death of his mother gives this poem great poignancy, to my mind. His sentiments about the treatment of women by men are still all too true, even in the 21st Century

C.L.M.

In the dark womb where I began
My mother's life made me a man.
Through all the months of human birth
Her beauty fed my common earth.
I cannot see, nor breathe, nor stir,
But through the death of some of her.

Down in the darkness of the grave
She cannot see the life she gave.
For all her love, she cannot tell
Whether I use it ill or well,
Nor knock at dusty doors to find
Her beauty dusty in the mind.

If the grave's gates could be undone,
She would not know her little son,
I am so grown. If we should meet,
She would pass by me in the street,
Unless my soul's face let her see
My sense of what she did for me.

What have I done to keep in mind
My debt to her and womankind?
What woman's happier life repays
Her for those months of wretched days?
For all my mouthless body leeched
Ere Birth's releasing hell was reached?

What have I done, or tried, or said
In thanks to that dear woman dead?
Men triumph over women still,
Men trample women's rights at will.
And man's lust roves the world untamed.

O grave, keep shut lest I be shamed.

 

When God Created Mothers - Erma Bombeck

This is rather saccharine, for me, like something out of the Readers' Digest, but I was still touched by it. And it is funny at times, for example the three pairs of eyes.

“When God Created Mothers"

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And God said, "Have you read the specs on this order?" She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head slowly and said. "Six pairs of hands.... no way."

It's not the hands that are causing me problems," God remarked, "it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."

That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, 'What are you kids doing in there?' when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word."

God," said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "Get some rest tomorrow...."

I can't," said God, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger...and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower."

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed.

But tough!" said God excitedly. "You can imagine what this mother can do or endure."

Can it think?"

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model."

It's not a leak," said the Lord, "It's a tear."

What's it for?"

It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride."

You are a genius, " said the angel.

Somberly, God said, "I didn't put it there.”
? Erma Bombeck , When God Created Mothers

 

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Page last modified October 2, 2014