Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Ghostmother


My mother is a carpet, my mother is a chair

My mother is a blanket, flowers cover up her hair

Her scent is all around me, her arms have disappeared

Her hands are hard - I’m frightened

What is happening to me?


 is happening to me? For a long time now I have been floating here

 is happening to me? In a room I do not know, light sifts in patterns,


 is happening to me? On the walls and on the floor,


 is happening to me? There is dimness, then a flash -


 is happening to me? The man says sssssh!



My mother does not feed me, my mother does not sing

Her breath is cold upon me, her lips are whispering

Her lap is like a statue, her smile has gone away

Who is the stranger, watching

Is this a game?


 is happening to me? For a long time now I have been smothering

 is happening to me?My face, my breasts, my thighs, all shrouded like a corpse


 is happening to me?He is making a new image 


 is happening to me?He only wants the child


 is happening to me?I know my place.


©  Helena Nolan

Old portraits of children with 'ghostmothers' in the background

Helena's work has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines including; The Stinging Fly, The Moth, and the Spoken Ink audio website. She is the 2011 winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award.

2 comments:

  1. Clever use of two points of view, child and mother. It is certainly what could be gathered from how those old photos looked, so stiff when to move a muscle brought blurry failure.

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  2. An intriguing poem beautifully written. Such bizarre photographs:)

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