'Beautiful Mother', a new poem by Michael Farrell

Reviewed by
March 2012, no. 339

'Beautiful Mother', a new poem by Michael Farrell

Reviewed by
March 2012, no. 339

You’ve always associated the two terms together
partly due to your reading of Schiller; partly due
to your watching of Kimba. Kimba sublimates
his mother in the water. You’ve always thought
your mother a baroque figure. You go into the
forest. You make something from a tree: a book
a club. Material comes from the mother; also
happiness, and therefore beauty. The mother
expects love and finds it, finds it beautiful. The
son cries white tears, imagines them surf, a cliff
an iceberg with beer beneath its surface. The
book says tree or mediation; the club says tree
or mediation. The Virgin Mary is prompted to
speak by the movement of the baby in her womb
She speaks Hebrew: ‘ממזר כמו בועט הוא’– ‘He
kicks like a bastard’. She defines a kind of
democracy. Her followers meet with her at the
temple. Her son, now twelve, is somewhere
swimming, or sublimating his mother in the
forest. He is a kind of book or club. He starts
drinking wine early; he refuses to go into the
army. He has to go across the border to another
country. He works at a cement factory there
When the men knock off the women dance
with him. He’s homesick and drinks whiskey
Eventually he swims back across the border
The trees hang over the river. He can’t tell
whether he or they are happy or beautiful; he
sees his mother in the sky. The stars are heavy
dramatic. The army still desires him. There
is book and club mediation. His mother prays
for his happiness. He builds a tower out of
beercans and critics say it’s beautiful. So he
builds a whole city and people start to live there
practising a form of democracy. Eventually
the area is annexed by Spain. You tell me all
this, mixing art history together with stories
of your mother. You didn’t want to go into the
army either. But it was in the army that you first
found love. It was a secret you kept from your
mother. Your mother was not a cartoon, nor
was she a political or religious figure, yet you
mapped her, in a sense, in the sky. She spoke
about you quite differently. She said that she
had taken you from a tree; it was dark and she
hadn’t known exactly what you were, whether
text or weapon or musical instrument. That you
were a wooden boy was a complete surprise




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comment (1)

  • The Hebrew phrase in this text is actually written backwards, so unfortunately it doesn't make sense! Because Hebrew is written right-to-left, but the poet has written it left-to-right, it reads as follows: 'bastard as though kicks he'. Which is sweetly amusing to those of us who speak both languages! I cringe at the fact there wasn't a proper ABR proof-read prior to publishing!!
    Posted by Jessica Rose
    Monday, 07 December 2015 17:13

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