when she is a bear

the mother. in the night.
the bear mother. a sign.
the daughter. fix the air.
her foot in mist.
a note of rock.
when she is a daughter.
when her cloud brother.
cloud father.
when she is a bear. her
tooth. her pelt.
when we make ridiculous laughter.
the bee buzz. the honey.
to fix thee, sister. a light.
thou bear. thou note of rock.

How long?

How long, how long, how long, how long, to sing this song?
— U2, channelling the Psalmist

The music's cruisy     trancy     wordless

The father walks away
from the mother
On the father's hip the baby cries Mamma Mamma
The father walks away
so the mother can do
the workshop
On the father's hip the baby cries Mamma Mamma

Is he old enough already
to learn that his mum
is a person?

Or is he young enough still
to learn that Mother
is not

Now the music
is American hiphop
Niggaz bitchez
money in yo pocketz

The father comes back
with the baby
The mother is dancing
The music's cruisy again
The baby? Silent

Mamma, Mamma — a moment?
Mamma, Mamma — eternity?
Mamma, Mamma —
how long?

First published in Poetry Matters

my mother

my mother smells
like cat: tongue licking kitten;
like homespun: wool-grease, warmth;
like eggshell, like duckpond;
like ocean: iodine, fins;
like oils wet on canvas;
like tripe, like boiled cabbage;
like baked apples and ginger biscuits;
like slept-in ‘Tweed by Lentheric’;
like cold morning ash;
like yellowing paper;
like glass

First published in Creatrix