Mother and child and mother times infinity

At Stephanie Arsoska’s most recent Virtual Open Mic Night we were tasked with reading a published poem and one of our own, without saying which was which. There was to be some link in theme or style between the poems, or you could even try to copy or emulate the published poem’s style. The others would listen and guess. I was rumbled straight off, of course, but I challenge you to listen to Sarah Miles read her two poems and pick which one is hers and which one is by a certain famous poet. Go on, have a go.

Meanwhile, here is what I read.


Ad infinitum

My joints click your click
My feet step your tread,
In my ring I hear yours ting
against your cup.
My toothbrush-tap is your spoon
playing a tune
on the rim of your mug.
“And now I tap!”
His toothbrush joins a line
that spans life, space and time.

Your irritations are now mine
I tell myself the self-same lies
Hiding behind the same disguise
So too I echo in his whine
Grating on both our nerves
As time rewinds, loops and curves.

Here I stand
And reprimand
Dizzy with a skewed
I see
versions of me
looking both up
and down at me.
You are in my words,
I speak you at my child,
and understand
where you stand
and stood.
The ought and should
now echo over years
and all the tears,
the fears, the growing pains
and vomit stains
on this point
where I stand
and understand
both child and mother
in my hand.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014


The published poem I chose is by one of my favourite, but relatively unknown poets here in the UK: Gwen Harwood. I can recommend both her poetry and her laugh-out-loud funny correspondence with her friend Tony Riddell from the days when she worked in a hilarious bureaucratic job in Brisbane, Australia, during the Second World War. These letters were published under the title Blessed CitySo, here she is:

In the Park

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt.
Someone she loved once passes by – too late

to feign indifference to that casual nod.
“How nice,” et cetera. “Time holds great surprises.”
From his neat head unquestionably rises
a small balloon… “but for the grace of God…”

They stand awhile in flickering light, rehearsing
the children’s names and birthdays. “It’s so sweet
to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive,”
she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing
the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.
To the wind she says, “They have eaten me alive.”

(c) Gwen Harwood


Why not join in the next Virtual Open Mic Night? It will be on Wednesday 25th of June and it is going to be a Newbie Night! Why not give it a go? You know you want to. Keep an eye on Stephanie’s blog for further details nearer the time.