Mother to Mother

It’s surprising how often one or two words can spark a whole poem. In a workshop, I was encouraged to think about or research some wonderful words to do with the shore. It was actually the words “chert and flint” which sparked this poem – and no, they’re not a pair of 1970s detectives, they’re the materials found in pebbles such as these in Seatown, Dorset.

The resulting poem, “Mother to Mother” is told in the voice of that great mother, the sea. She is speaking to a human mother, who may or may not be me. 😉

Beach at Seatown, Dorset

Mother to Mother 

At my shore, where you are drawn to grow lighter,
I load my spring currents with new stones to shine.
I grab steely chert,
pale flint with pleasing speckles,
nuggets of crumby sea-wall.
They are mine. They are mine.

As you lift your teary son from his waterlogged wellies,
you smile at how weighted his jacket now is
with stripey-lined feldspar
and palm-ready axe-heads:
soothing jewels to line his bed with.
They are his, they are his.

Some days, I admit, I take swipes of red cliff-mud,
with or without a caravan thrown in.
But I am a caretaker,
a guardian of mixed treasures.
I smooth jagged edges.
We are kin, we are kin. 

This poem was first published by Reach Poetry (Indigo Dreams Publishing).

The workshop that inspired this poem was run by the very inspiring Anna Saunders.

Photo by me, at Seatown in 2021. One day later, the cliff you can see behind the rocks collapsed in an enormous landslip, hence the “swipes of red cliff-mud”. The boy on the rocks belongs to me 😉



You Don’t Have My Children

Every child is different – of course every child is different. But as parents to an autistic eight year old, and a headstrong four year old who doesn’t see why he should be treated differently to his brother, we have to play by slightly different parenting rules. And we have to get used to looks that say “Oh, just show him who’s boss!” “Make him join in!” “Don’t pander to him!”

But we can be headstrong too.

You Don’t Have My Children

To those who say
“Bundle them in! They’ll soon fit –
they’re kids! They’ll adapt in a bit!”
To those who say
“Make them conform to the norm –
it’s lonely outside of the swarm!”
To those who say
“Just tell them no if they throw
in a meltdown – and never give in!”
To those who say
“Stubborn persistence delivers
the payload of good discipline!”

I say, maybe your parenting skills outplay mine
and that’s fine…
but you don’t have my children.


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