Mother/Mute

by Narph   Jan 15, 2014


At night she wilts
in the same old chair,
glass in hand and legs dropped
like two great fallen logs
across the armrest.
She slings a new whimper
my way, a quip from exhaustion
and from wine, no doubt.

It's not the first time,
and it won't be the last
that I find myself sunk low
at her side, awkwardly crouched,
neck crunched
into some semblance of leisure.
This is well practiced:
a yoga of avoidance.

Meeting her eyes leaves me
comfortless and bleak.
Blue is now a color of doubt
and self reckoning.
I see in her a defeat,
a hulking madness
of reclamation and delirious excess that
I can't fathom, and I can't fill.

I wish she knew
that the silence I keep
is a page torn from my journal,
balled up and set aflame.
That it's infinitely better
than my arid disappointment.
Than the words that would leak from me
staining the air between us,
another frown
inked across her face.

**Poetic journaling. Sorry for the sentimental goo. Please feel free to criticize this one.

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  • 4 years ago

    by Colm

    Ok, I'll start from the top and work my way down :)

    'from exhaustion
    and from wine, no doubt.'
    ^^
    I would leave out this last line in the first stanza and maybe us a different word instead of exhaustion. I think the reader knows already that alcohol is what is making her this way (glass in hand was a good description) and it doesn't need to be stated so obviously.

    'It's not the first time,
    and it won't be the last'
    ^^
    Again, there is already a sense in the poem that this is true already and you don't have to say it as it is implied with the use of the present tense (at night she wilts, not just once but seems like a nightly thing, and 'same old chair' give a sense it happens often. So I think the first 4/5 lines are interesting but the next four are largely unnecessary.

    'neck crunched
    into some semblance of leisure.'
    ^^
    I'm not sure that this works very well. The word leisure seems out of place here, and all in all is your stance/positioning so important to justify devoting 4 lines to describing it? Do they really add much to the poem? Unless it is your way of metaphorically getting your head around the situation, bracing yourself? But I don't think this comes through enough to work effectively.

    'This is well practised, this yoga of avoidance.'
    ^^
    This is a good, original image in itself and I like how you say 'well-practised,' - it says in one short half-line how it is an ongoing thing and that you are the one who finds her. (more reason why end of 1st stanza and start of 2nd should be omitted.) But the next line is 'meeting her eyes,' so the impact of the 'yoga of avoidance' is diminished or cancelled out somewhat by that.

    Overall the third stanza is good. It develops the poem after a more stagnant 2nd stanza and has some good imagery. I'm torn on the use of 'blue.' Its the colour of her eyes but blue eyes generally signify brightness and vitality (to me at least, contrasting with 'bleak' in the previous line.) Maybe you could add an adjective, such as 'pale blue' to help offset the clash of images between bleak and blue eyes. I really liked the second half of the third stanza though, describing what you see in the eyes.

    The last stanza keeps up the predominanty good form of the third. I like the image of the missing page of the journal: it is a feeling you have but have consciously discarded. It is better for your mother that you say nothing because hearing the disappointment in your voice would hurt her. There is almost an unwritten rule here that the two of you ignore the elephant in the room, perhaps accept that she won't change and try to somehow make the best of it. The last stanza lets the reader in also, to the sacrifice the poet makes.

    So, overall. I would say that some parts in the first half especially can be re-visited, trimmed or cut out altogether. The second half is largely pretty good as it is. I found it an interesting poem with good potential. Hope this helps in some way.

  • 4 years ago

    by Hannah Lizette

    I've read this for days, literally...and I've been trying to come up with ways to express how much I love this poem and how to leave a proper comment instead of just gushing over each line. The imagery, the emotion... ugh, I'm going to try not to repeat myself and leave somewhat of a decent comment. There won't be much of a critique, it's perfect in my eyes.

    First stanza: You begin with great imagery of your mother falling into her chair, legs propped over the armrest with a glass of wine, a nightly ritual for her. I love the usage of quip! I always enjoy seeing words that aren't used very often. I believe it means somewhere along the lines of mockery or a snappy response of some sort, right? I think the snappy response works well here,
    like she is blaming you for her "exhaustion".

    Second stanza: You sink lower, trying to act like you are comfortable, relaxed and at peace with her there beside you so that she doesn't pick up any bad vibes from you. You want to avoid that kind of confrontation. It's something that you have experienced and don't wish to again, so you practiced to be still and quiet and hope nothing disturbs her. I adore the use of crouched and crunched along with yoga! It really gave the image that you would put yourself in any awkward position just to avoid her at all costs.

    Third stanza: She makes you feel uncomfortable, the color of her eyes haunts you in a way... they don't hold love and support, but doubt and self reckoning. There is so much sadness in these words that it just hurts my heart to even read it.

    Fourth stanza: The words you couldn't say to her were in your journal until you tore them out and torched them. I wonder if that's
    because you are afraid that maybe someday she will find them and it will cause a reaction that you would rather avoid? You wish she could hear them, but you keep silent as to not cause any unwanted attention. It's better that way because you won't give her another reason to frown upon.

    I'm not sure if I'm even a tiny bit right in my interpretation, some of it is pretty straight forward while other parts seem hidden and disguised (at least to me). A beautiful poem that is drenched in the sadness of being mute to keep the peace.

  • 4 years ago

    by Everlasting

    The only critique that I would have had was on this stanza:

    Meeting her eyes leaves me
    comfortless and bleak.
    Blue is now a color of doubt
    and self reckoning.
    I see in her a defeat,
    a hulking madness
    of reclamation and delirious excess that
    I can't fathom, and I can't fill.

    ^ I was wondering where the blue came from? As it seemed like it was placed there just out of nowhere, at least at first read. But I'm guessing that's the color of her eyes and what her eyes invoke in you. Overall, I see a woman in a chair getting drunk? almost bickering about her day while her daughter is sitting by her side watching her, but her daughter sees no hope in her mother being happy any day as if her mother just gave up on life. Though life can be exhausting and sometimes, people ( ourselves) don't know how to handle it. And that may cause us to become self absorbed in our own world that we forget about those around us ( though that shouldn't be taken as an excuse to give up) At least, that's what I feel about the woman wilting in the chair. She had an exhausting day or days, and she tries to ease them with wine but she doesn't see the impact she is causing on her daughter, nor the impression she is leaving on her. And her daughter prefers to not tell her, just so she will not cause her mother any more sadness in her life.

    Overall, this was a good write. I guess my only critique would be that all the other stanzas had stronger imagery while this one semi loses it. In this one, it starts with imagery but towards the end that's where your emotions are told rather than shown. However, I feel it will be hard to show them.

    Take care.

  • 4 years ago

    by Meena Krish

    Sentimental poems always have a way to touch each and every reader and with vivid imagery, it just captures the reader's mind too. Its a moving write with lots of emotions laid out between each line...take care.

  • 4 years ago

    by Beautiful Soul

    I am very fond of imagery poems and this one is very well detailed. There is always something magical about writing when in a certain mood or feeling and I feel here that the character is deep in thought. The wording here is brillant in spots and works well. Like wilting into the chair- being comfortable with where you are and I think that is their usual spot maybe a spot where they always write? I loved how you pinpointed each object in the room. For example like the wine makes a person feel more relaxed. I can feel some sad and awkward tones in these characters and that makes it a great write. I personally think the ending wrapped up the poem well because the silence brings a great emotoon to the poem and it tells me there is a calm throughout. Well done.