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 😉



Mariner Girl


Mariner Girl

Take me away, said the mariner girl,
From the islands of ought-to which circle the sea,
Let me be lady and lord of my world,
And let all obligation sink gladly from me.

The valleys are flowing with nonsense and noise,
As the hills raise their heads to command and cajole,
The air is a millstone which crushes my joys,
I will sail from the land, or else forfeit my soul.

Send me a star, said the mariner girl,
To blaze through my darkness and show me a path
Through the waves, to a place where my mind can unfurl –
Just me, and the sea, and my brave little craft.

The currents are flowing with maybe and might,
And the swells are a surge of why-not and just-be,
The salty-skinned air gives a kiss of delight,
As I sail from the land and join hands with the sea.

Farewell to you, restless mariner girl,
For I’ve neither a boat, nor the courage to sail,
As the land keeps me bound, so the sea claims its pearl,
But your spirit shines on in this dream-spinner’s tale.


© Nina Parmenter 2018

Photo by Ahmed zayan on Unsplash

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