Susan UttingSusan Utting 


Reconstructing My Father's Mother

Begin with the name: Poor Mother, Poor Dear Mother.
Then the knuckles: prominent, knobbly, the sole face of her fists.
Define the fists: more bent, more crooked than clenched, holding on
to dishrags, floorcloths, scrubbing brushes, knives, for all the world
as if they might be snatched from her, as if her life depended.
Move on to the legs: bandy, un-seawater-worthy, silly little,
poor, dear little legs, ricketted, lisle and lace-up, bunion-footed.

Forget the torso, know only this: its belly, the seven fruit
of it, tin bath and kettle water, gin and purge survivors.

End with the back: horizontal, the gait a crabby scuffle, a view
of fluff and crumb, unreachable, un-pick-up-able; feeling the way
by touch of edges, corners, hems of tablecloths, mapping a route
by way of hearthrug, floorboard, flagstone, lino - a territory at last,
more true than the wonder of planes that stay up in the sky, the sky inhabited by seagulls, more hers and clearer than the memory of seagulls.

This poem was first published in "Mslexia Magazine" Issue 84 as a winner in their International Women's Poetry Competition, 2019.

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