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Posted on December 21 2019

Malika describe's Nicola Daly's runner-up poem The Woman Who Cut My Mother as a 'masterfully articulated poem of witness. It’s impact lies in the imagery: death mask moon, parcel of bones, and stranger with a rib of grey hair. It is the restraint that enables this poem about female mutilation to hold its own. '


The Woman Who Cut My Mother 


What my mother remembered was everything:

The soft light of a death mask moon that turned the grass

to a bluish when they gave her like a parcel of bones

to a stranger with a rib of grey hair.


What she tried to forget apart from the poultice of eggs, sugar and wormwood

was the rasp that sat in her lungs unable to pass up through her lips

in the usual way even when she felt the gentle hands of cousins.


What my mother can never forgive:

Is the war that act pumped into her blood,

nor the day her father wrapped a sliver of gold around her wrist

pleased, that she had learnt how to carry pain just like her mother.



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