Parenting, Reviews

Some beautiful poetry on mothering & breastfeeding (and a giveaway)

20 May, 2014

I’ve sort of given up on pithy titles for my posts, can you tell? After a gnarly couple of posts on the blog (with some incredible discussion in the comments – do read them! And thank you for joining in with such honesty and with such open hearts…) I felt like today would be a perfect day for four beautiful poems on mothering and womanhood. They are penned by the brilliant poet Cathy Bryant in her new book Look At All the Women. There are poems on love to make you fall in love again, funny ones (Wonder Woman hitting menopause made me laugh out loud) and stirring, political ones (she takes on the Bedroom Tax and climate change in one chapter.)  I was always going to be drawn to the poetry on breastfeeding though, eh?

At Last
She feeds her baby
and it is the first loving touch
she has ever felt
in her bruised and battered life.
She strengthens and nourishes
her little one,
and introduces him to love and trust
and he does the same for her.
He thrives, and so does she,
for the first time;
for the first time, and forever.

Poetry on motherhood

Hard to believe now
that we are such separate beings —
you a great strapping
toddler of three, all-knowing,
I a hopeful extemporising
Thankfully, when you were born
and we parted for the first time,
we kept that close touch.
Feeding fed us both
with love and care
and slowly, only when ready,
you drew away to other
sources of nourishment.
But the everyday miracle
is still there in my memory
of the closeness between us
and of us and in us
and the sweetest, most gentle
bonds are unbreakable.

Poetry on Motherhood

Child and the Future
Little one, your hurts, though deep, are fleeting.
You always hope for better, tomorrow.
Not like me, too knowing, slug heart beating
while yours pounds swiftly in joy or sorrow.
As the doors of dreams slam finally shut
and knee grazes become heart’s dragging wounds,
one copes with haircut, pay cut, paper cut;
music no longer magic, just nice sounds.
It’s not all bad. You keep some illusions.
The drawn-out years become flashing seasons.
You can smile at popular delusions
and settle with your comfortable reasons.
Yet, child of mine, keep hope for better things.
Innocence should shape what the future brings.

Poetry on Motherhood

Look At All The Women
Look at that woman breastfeeding in public!
I think it’s absolutely disgusting

the way people give her a hard time.

Look at that lass in a minidress!
Whore! Slag! Bitch! Slut!

are just some of the things she’ll be called
by prejudiced strangers.

Look at that grandmother!
A lot of support is needed

from her for all her friends and relatives,
but she still finds time to lead a vibrant, balanced life.

Look at that campaigner!
She should get to the kitchen,

have a glass of wine and put her feet up,
later on, after standing up for us all.

Look at that woman writer!
It’ll be all flowers, dresses and chocolates

at her many literary award ceremonies.

Look at that sister!
She’s arguing with her siblings again

which, done with affection and a willingness
to compromise, is a really useful life skill.

Look at that stay-at-home mother!
She doesn’t work, of course

apart from 24 hours a day, seven days a week
doing one of the most important jobs there is.

Look at that woman scientist!
She’s outside her natural environment

analysing soil samples from the planet Mars.

Look at me!
Ill and unable to work again

but still making people laugh, and still giving
the best hugs in Manchester.

Look at that cleaner!
The lowest of the low

will sneer at her, as she makes our lives pleasanter
for a pittance.

Look at that daughter!
Disappointing, really

that she still has so much sexism to face.

Look at that lesbian!
You can tell what she needs

— equality, and recognition of
her voice that enriches us all.

Look at that schoolgirl!
They shouldn’t be educated

differently from boys.

Look at all the women!

What a waste of time

life would be without them.

The publishers, Mother’s Milk Books, would like to send a paperback version of Look At All The Women to a reader somewhere in the world. Simply leave a comment to be entered. I’ll draw the winner of the giveaway at random at 9pm June 9th. I’ll redraw two days later if I don’t get a response to my email. 

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  • fie 20 May, 2014 at 8:34 am

    You know, it’s in these unexpected moments (like when I sit down to check my email and end up reading a blog such as this) that I find the encouragement and empowerment I had been looking for for days. Thank you.

  • Yael 20 May, 2014 at 8:36 am

    My friend Aviya, my home-educating unschooling mentor from Israel, should have this book.

  • Anna 20 May, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Just lovely. Thank you.

    That’s all *bottom lip all a-quiver*

  • Rose Wray-Brown 20 May, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Your photos match the poems brilliantly 😉

  • EWP 20 May, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Beautiful poetry! Thank you

  • Jean-marie 20 May, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Amazing poetry! I’ve just bought the book for myself – and another for my friend. And I don’t even usually LIKE poetry!!! 🙂

  • Jessie 20 May, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Oh tear. Tears in the shreddies…

  • Claire 20 May, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Lucy, thank you for your wonderful blog. A friend recently introduced me to it because she loves the craft and thrift articles and thought I would too. I have been reading them compulsively for the last few weeks and been inspired to give myself time to make those craft projects I’ve been putting off and to love bicarb and coconut oil ;). In the last few days I’ve been enjoying your parenting posts too and this beautiful poetry left me teary-eyed on the bus! Thank you Xx

  • Jenny 20 May, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Lovely poems! Thanks for posting them and introducing me to an inspiring poet.

  • Janine 20 May, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Ooh, love. I’ve been seeing lots of poetry online lately, I’m thinking it’s a sign I need to write and be more creative. I’d love to win this. 🙂

  • Clare 20 May, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I adore the last poem you posted.
    So much judgement. So very sad.

  • Laura A Farnworth 21 May, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Love these poems – great blog post. I’d love to win the book.

  • Alison Bond McNally 21 May, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Some days you get the poetry you like, some days you get the poetry you need. I needed this today, first day back at work in the Library, thinking about books and reading and missing my little nursling. Thank you for sharing, I’ll make sure we have a copy on our shelves.

  • Sue Denim 21 May, 2014 at 1:25 am

    Look at that girl at the gig
    Gazing at the long haired boys

    in the audience

    Ha ha. Not as good as her poem, but thought I’d have a go. I really like her subversion in this last poem.
    (Reading as I breastfeeding my sleeping babi)

  • Cheryl 21 May, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Loved these poems. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  • ThaliaKR 21 May, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Lovely x4.

    And anyone who can write a rhyming sonnet is AMAZING.

    Thanks for these. The first one in particular made me cry.

    The subversive one reminded me of this:

  • Jo 22 May, 2014 at 3:04 am

    These poems are amazing! I love the breastfeeding ones, but Look At All The Women was the one that really held power for me. How have I not heard of Cathy Byrant before? I‘m off to look her up now…

  • Angi 23 May, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Look at All the Women is brilliant – so clever and sassy. Good Luck with the book, Cathy.

  • Gab 23 May, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Amazing timing….the night before you posted this I was up at feeding my 14 wk old son and this poem came to me (havent had this type of inspirational moment for a long long time) and I scribbled it down…..

    Welcome my miracle please stay a while
    No clue what you need of me but I’ll do all I can.
    Someone untouched by sun and winds
    Gifting vitality to those so weathered.
    A glimpse of your face the salve
    For your fathers weary heart.
    The smiles of ecstatic laughter
    Creeping across your face.
    Wide eyes honed to each lilt of my voice.
    Enveloping you in my arms
    Shying you away from all dangers.
    Your tiny hand creeps incey wincey spider
    On my arm as sleep weighs down your lashes.
    Some nights the clock would tick
    So loud with worry.
    Welcome silence from sorrow
    Becomes too quiet and moments an eternity.
    I cease to exhale for I wait
    For assurance my heart can stay full.
    My blessings come
    In small snuffled breaths in the night air.
    Oh the serenity in your slumbering face
    My world a small price to pay for your happiness.

  • Caroline P 24 May, 2014 at 12:15 am

    I’d forgotten that poetry can bring you to tears. Even though he’s a year old I think I’m still coming to terms with the immensity of being a mother.

  • Lucy P. 26 May, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Wow, such beautiful poetry. I’m expecting my first baby in six weeks and the breastfeeding poems made my bottom lip go all quivery. Thank you, thank you and thank you for blogging about breastfeeding so positively. It’s really helped me to feel empowered to breastfeed and support a woman’s right to nurse in public. Sadly, I wasn’t raised with this sentiment and my family keep telling me that I might well give up or not be able to breastfeed anyway. When I read poetry like this, I feel sad that they missed out on that connection. Gosh, these hormones are mighty powerful things aren’t they?! *sniff*

  • Sian 28 May, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Loved that last poem in particular: powerful stuff. Lucy P – I wasn’t raised by a family who were fans of breastfeeding either. My mother didn’t give me a drop of colostrum and formula-fed me from day 1. It honestly doesn’t matter. I ended up breastfeeding my first baby for 15 months and my second baby for 10 months. I genuinely loved every minute and was sad when our time came to its natural end. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you, then meh, you gave it a try. I found it incredibly easy and didn’t really care about feeding in public – my family and in-laws found it uncomfortable sometimes but hey, they’d had their chance at parenting, this was mine. Good luck with it! If it doesn’t work out, then don’t feel bad about it. I had a perfectly healthy childhood without a single drop of breastmilk. x

    • Lucy P. 9 June, 2014 at 6:43 am

      Thanks for your words of encouragement Sian. Too many websites are filled with mums trying to ‘outdo’ each other or ‘win’ somehow when it comes to parenting issues when really we all thrive on good old fashioned support. Especially if you’re as squeaky brand new to this game as I am. 🙂

  • Susan 29 May, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I’d love to win this book and give it to one of my friends who loves to share poems for special occasions and always starts, “because there’s not enough poetry in the world ….”

  • Danielle Hart 8 June, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Inspirational poetry from natures most beautiful motherhood!

  • Kushla Mercer* 8 June, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    OH! I really love the Unbreakable one…. (sigh/sob!)
    And I know I’m ‘supposed’ to be downsizing stuff, but how can I resist a taonga like this! :-). Xx*

  • Bethany 8 June, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    They were lovely, thank you.

  • Tanya Stevens 9 June, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Beautiful Poetry!