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Posted on December 11 2019

Susan Utting's Reconstructing my Father's Mother was described by judge Malika Booker as 'illusive, strange and hypnotic. I was impressed by the way that the poet landed the poem on the last line.'


Reconstructing my Father's Mother


Begin with the name: Poor Mother, Poor Dear Mother.

Then the knuckles: prominent, knobbly, the sole face of her fists.

Define the fists: more bent, more crooked than clenched, holding on

to dishrags, floorcloths, scrubbing brushes, knives, for all the world

as if they might be snatched from her, as if her life depended.

Move on to the legs: bandy, un-seawater-worthy, silly little,

poor, dear little legs, ricketted, lisle and lace-up, bunion-footed.


Forget the torso, know only this: its belly, the seven fruit

of it, tin bath and kettle water, gin and purge survivors.


End with the back: horizontal, the gait a crabby scuffle, a view

of fluff and crumb, unreachable, un-pick-up-able; feeling the way

by touch of edges, corners, hems of tableclothes, mapping a route

by way of hearthrug, floorboard, flagstone, lino - a territory at last,

more true than the wonder of planes that stay up in the sky, the sky

inhabited by seafulls, more hers and clearer than the memory of seagulls.



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