Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Winding Paths of Bloggery

Gaw has been writing about his older boy starting school. That led him to take note of a poem. And that led me to remember a poem on a not unrelated theme. It's by Jennifer Maiden, and here it is:


In case my love unfits her for the world
I watch her sometimes from peripheries
as if I were the child I was
hovering at each playground's edge
debating dumbly with myself -
how to be a child? She does that
so much better than I did, and
it seems she isn't acting. Good:
if something apt about my love
has made her cleanly real, something
in its half critical yielding, or
its whimsical huge pleasure gives to her
a crispness like my silken tough unpruned
camellia and may bushes which she harvests
to thrust in sugared vases with the air
of one who fits them aptly for the world


  1. I like the ambiguity of 'seems' and 'sugared vases' and 'if' -- the disquiet, the uneasiness of the parent, the fear that the child's apparent confidence is a performance and a transient 'crispness' (brittle word) that might be destroyed when the child is tested by something sharper and harsher than a parent's love (the silken toughness of the flowers is tied to the fact that they are unpruned).

  2. I like the way the mother was hovering at the edge as a child and is at the periphery as a mother, watching her child, wondering how to be a parent?

  3. I do wonder if my mother had such thoughts about me. I sometimes wonder, but suspect that I would never understand a mother's love for her child.

  4. Umbagollah - I had been a bit doubtful about those lines - wondered if the camellia had just been dragged in a bit randomly - but your perceptive comments demonstrate how they are very much part of the whole
    Polly - Helen Garner has an essay about watching her child not being chosen for a team that is heartbreaking; in it she feels she mustn't intervene, although it turns out the child was actually hoping she would
    Madame - love for your child is like all love: complicated.