Mothering Sunday

While in North America this Sunday is the day when the clocks ‘spring forward’, in Ireland and the UK it is Mother’s Day, also called Mothering Sunday. The latter name came from the era of armies of domestic servants who were allowed home, brandishing Simnel cake, on that Sunday in March, often close to Lady Day. For many in domestic service this was the only day off a year. (Simnel cake is also a British Easter cake and is topped by little marzipan balls, which might also double as eggs.) Lady Day falls on March 25th, the old Gregorian calendar New Year’s Day. Coincidentally, it was also the date when tenant farmers needed to pay their landlords the annual rent.

I missed out last Sunday to mark International Women’s Day with a poem since I was busy with a Zoom workshop. So I decided to write a bonus poem this week.

Mothering Sunday

It is pouring outside.
Like that milk that pours
from that bottomless urn in the night sky.
We are millenia
and thousands of miles away
from Hathor pouring from her night sky jug.
She is up there, invisible
this rainy Mothering Sunday in Ireland.

We complain of the rain,
but never the constant flowing milk of mother love,
that distinctive kindness continually raining down-
meal after meal,
the relentless tide of washing,
the wiped snot, the iodined hurts,
the tears wiped,
the home work, hand-made and patch-worked,
the loneliness

that is only told to the Milky Way
some nights reserved just for mothers
when Hathor rains down from her realm
that mother love
for the tired, tried, and tested
mothers' whose udders ache
from their continurally lactating love,
milking the final drop left
on this parched planet
as they ceaselessly hold up the sky.

Copyright Bee Smith, 2021. All rights reserved.
 

Featured image Photo by Christopher Martyn on Unsplash

Sunday Weekly, Poetry Edition

Contemplating the function of poetry in these strange times, it seems to me that the themes of impermanence and small joys speak to our current global condition. Elegies exercise grief over loss. Odes, too, can eulogise. Haiku, senryu, and tanka offer a snapshot image and feeling that is already gone except for the paper it is written on. Perhaps nature and love poems are the compensating joys, even if that, too, proves evanescent. The Celtish culture defined poetry as being ‘all memory.’ Memory can be a tricky thing. Holes can appear; we mend and make do to create meaning in the face of the great imponderables. In the face of our inchoate, post-Covid 19 future, philosophy may help us navigate day to day reality, but poetry may actually be what helps us navigate grief and uncertainty.

I know that some of my readers will be in the belly of a polar vortex this weekend. One Ohio based Facebook friend posted a photo of snowflakes on dandelion clocks. Here in Ireland today is chillier, after several days that were 20C (or 68 Farhrenheit in old money.) The sunshine made it feel warmer and I anointed myself with sunscreen for the first time this year, as one step beyond the floppy hat protection. We had the full Flower Moon, the last supermoon of 2020, this past week and astronomical Bealtaine (or Beltane outside of Ireland). As if waiting for its cue, the hawthorn began to unbutton its tight white buds and began to flower. I wrote a long Beataine poem this week that has been sent to a friend who posted me some life enhancing Lockdown light literature – crime fiction by Antonia Fraser, Raymond Chandler and J. M. Cain. I asked what I could send as a thank you and all she wanted was a Bealtaine poem! Classy lady, as another friend commented.

In the USA it is Mother’s Day. On this side of the pond we celebrate that on a Sunday that is close to the vernal equinox; it also is close to Lady Day, the feast of the Annunciation of Mary. Either date, the celebration of Mother’s Day has strong Marian overtones. Bealtaine, the month of May, is also a great fertility celebration as the growing season gets into full swing.

So for the Sunday Weekly I have written some tanka, although I have played a bit fast and lose with the rules in the latter. One is a salute to American Mother’s Day, which must feel rather odd this year for families that don’t share one roof. Lilacs are strong in my childhood memories of the month of May. Partially because there was a bush by the kitchen side door. Also partially because of hay fever memories from the bouquets brought to school for Marian celebration processions.

And this other tanka-ish poem is a nod to my near neighbours. I shouldn’t really say they are noisy, but… Their nest in the roof’s eaves is just above my writing space. So I cannot help but notice them.

Have a peaceful, restful Sunday with many small joys.

Featured image is a Photo by Nellia Kurme on Unsplash

Motherland

In the land of my birth, today is Mother’s Day. Many years ago,as a Mother’s Day gift, I sent my own mother a poem written on a Donegal beach, contemplating the ocean between us that also was what bound us. Years later when we were putting items into her coffin that poem went with her into the ground. 

It is a Sunday and I am not a mother. But I do have a great deal of leisure time to spend with poetry practice. I birth other things. I actually wrote two poems this morning. Somedays it takes a while to get the poetry engine purring. And while we all have biological mothers, let us not forget the one who sustains us ultimately.

Motherland

Some mountains are mothers.

Others are the granny

Having her back while she’s

Labouring hard, panting

Into the birthing stone.

Remember the mother

Distraught, wasted away

When her daughter was snatched,

Held hostage, forced into

An unholy marriage.

There are consequences

Until you give something.

Reparation for wrongs

Done to the motherland.

For she will always

Prevail.

                 We though, may not.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith


Body of Water


A spring is the rising well in my heart

fed deep below or far above runoff,

the cascade roaring over the rock face.

Cataracts blinding as one’s salty tears,

create countless burns, brooks, becks streaming.

Rivers form and fork like two legs meeting.

I carry the ocean in my belly.

Even now the old tug and pull of tide

still presides through the moon’s wax and waning.

An ocean bed is still an ocean bed

even when the tide has carried water

far, far out,you still carry the vessel

holding the light in phosphorescent night.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Motherland mothersday
Hoy, Orkney

Featured photo ‘the naval of earth’ at Uisneach, Ireland