Crippled Bird


In response to/inspired by Elfstone’s Smile. An older poem in which I ‘discovered’, or brought to consciousness, something important about my adult relationship with my mother…

it’s not my fault
dad’s long instruction at his
father’s fist    mum’s bad legs and clubby feet
nor that she came home   four years old
to find she’d been left  
her mother and siblings gone   gone
their weighty needs
are pinning
me down
i’ve turned into this feral cat
they’re   trying   to   skin   alive
i’ve had enough   got my suitcase packed
but she’s hobbling fast
catches me at the door   cries
you’re not going anywhere   a quaver
in her voice    her arms flung tight around
my waist to stop me   and   oh   god   oh   god
she’s like a crippled bird    heart pumping wildly
against my powerful hand
and she’s just trembling  trembling




© belcanto 2017
critique and comments welcome.

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15 Comments on "Crippled Bird"

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that’s a very powerful poem. excellent


strong poem. take a look at it without the second “oh god” particularly in view of the repetition of “trembling”.

Incredible poetry! Poignant, honest and breathtakingly painful to read, to those of us who can relate on all sorts of different levels. First stanza sets the scene..the history.. Second the resultant suffocating effects on the innocent subject of the next generation. Highlighted by the clever use of placing text. The utter desperation (on BOTH sides) of the next 4 lines! “she’s hobbling fast” just cut me to the bone…so much pain inferred….hers, yours the knowledge she suffers but you must not buckle… The final stanza! The agony and desperation. You the strong one. she.. so very vulnerable and needy!… Read more »
I’ve come a bit late to this Belcanto so not sure what to say. I find myself disagreeing with previous comments on the layout, but I enjoyed the poem very much. Hmm maybe “enjoyed” is the wrong word — admired is perhaps better, as I can’t ‘enjoy’ the pain in your poem. I can see that there is a ‘connection of the spirit’, if I can put it that way, with my poem. Your last stanza reeks of classic narcissism in your mother; a kind of emotional blackmail. Thank you for posting this; it’s good to share … Elf.

Just found this poem, I missed so much while undergoing Chemo. I too had problems with my Mother, the age gap to big to bridge, the sixties etc. I could never be what she wanted. When I left at just sixteen, the pain in her face was hard to bear. Your words move me, they always do.
Mike XxX

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