Long Walk to Nowhere

Long Walk to Nowhere

You are free
but your mind,
you mind
cannot see
the destiny
waiting for you to achieve.
You walk unbound
But the mind
is bogged down
to the ground
by a stubborn will
to see your smallness.
So you walk around
and around
make a journey to nowhere
so you can find your success
although it was always there
hiding under the rumpled doubts
inside you mind.

Personal Choice

Personal Choice

It can be  sentitive
or insensitive
free the spirit
or give birth
to the horros around you.
It can fuel your compassion
or make you immune
out of tune,
to how you,
impact me and the few
who don't agree with you.
Just be certain
that your choice cure
and does not obsure. 

Mother and Mothering in “I Am Becoming My Mother” by Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison is a prolific Jamaican and Caribbean writer and overall artist extraordinaire. Her poetry dates back to the year 1980, with her first collection entitled Tambrind Season. Her second collection bears the name of the poem I will be looking at today, I Am Becoming My Mother, published in 1986. With a decided feminist twist this poem harkens to womanhood and motherhood as being interwoven. Short and spicy (pun intended) is how I would describe this poem below:

Yellow/brown woman
fingers smelling always of onions

My mother raises rare blooms
and waters them with tea
her birth waters sang like rivers
my mother is now me

My mother had a linen dress
the colour of the sky
and stored lace and damask
to pull shame out of her eye.

I am becoming my mother
brown/yellow woman
fingers smelling always of onions.

Now I am not here to speak of line length nor so much about poetic technique. What I am willing to talk about is the idea of doubling, culture and identity as it relates to the Caribbean experience. Now the speaker of the poem comes to the realisation that she is becoming her mother. This suggests a kind of doubling where she begins to morph into her mother. This suggests an inheritance, a physicality that establishes her identity once and for all. There is a sense of ambivalence that I recognise in the tone of the speaker. There is a sense of inevitability about this revelation also. Many young women vow to never be like their mother but in the end, have much of her characteristics and physical appearance. By verbalising this truth the speaker here is not only coming to terms but has reached the stage of accepting that her identity, “yellow/brown”, is forever interwoven with her mother’s and is a generational legacy. This reference to skin colour also harkens to the legacy of slavery which is a feature of Caribbean history.

This legacy not only manifests in her physical appearance but also in her performative rituals. She specifically indicates “always smelling of onions” which speaks to her mother as a provider through the provision of food. In stanza two she refers to the idea of her mother as a gardener. This metaphor captures fully the nurturing characteristics of her mother and how good she was. The daughter here indicates this mother as being attentive to her garden, as she waters her flowers with “tea” or a culturally stimulating environment that ensures traditions essential to her identity are passed down. She also celebrates her mother’s fertility through the mentioning of “birth waters that sang like the river” always flowing.

Next, there is stanza three which highlights the resilience of a mother who came from wealth to poverty but one who remained dignified in the face of adversity. The “linen dress”, “lace” and “damask tablecloth” symbolise the wealth from which the mother sprung. This is contrasted against the sentiment of “pulling shame out of her eye”. Note that these fine items were “stored”, likely brought out on special occasions and for special guests. It is a Caribbean condition I would think to want to put the best foot forward and these items represented the opportunity for the mother to do so. Not only was it a means of “pulling shame” from her eyes but that of the other members of the household, her children especially.

At the end of the poem we see what now becomes the refrain

I am becoming my mother 
brown/yellow woman 
fingers smelling always of onions.

Here there is full acceptance and agreement that the repeated sentiment carries. The speaker now feels fully entrenched in this new and emerging identity. It is one she cannot escape or deny and one she has come to terms with. I like how nuanced this poem is and how layered. It reflects a mother-daughter relationship that required coming to terms with. This idea is reflected in the silences found in this poem. SIlences that speak to acceptance celebration and respect. It is a celebration of a tradition that the speaker is now fully committed to carrying on.



I feel
No perturbed.
And cannot get no peace.
Even in this moment
I seek some relief.
I know I am not forsaken 
but somehow...
but this bile rising
cannot be mistaken
for the bickle I had partaken.
I feel the burden
weighed down with guilt
pricked in the heart
I dear not fall asleep.
Instead I must go forth
to change this thing
take out the sting
so I can be forgiven.

In My Weakness

I felt the stab
sharper than the sword 
that knows no limit
the sword of the Spirit.
I am weak!
I cried 
and fell
to my knees.
Sufficient He is
so here I will rest awhile,
He carries me.
A burden too great
for anybody else.
I will lay here on this table here so
while He puts me back together again
removes the thorn
tormenting me.
What if I cried 
into laughing
there is power in my weakness?

Children of the Day

Children of the Day

For you are all children of light
children of the day
you cannot be swayed
by what they have to say.
Though they revel in your temporary dismay
you are not delayed
but the evil ways
they choose will lead them astray.
Within you no dark places
no unbroken spaces
to let the darkness in.
So shine in every corner
your light that sustains
the beauty of the day.

Every Blooming Thing.

Every Blooming Thing.

Every blooming thing is a treasure
and all must grow and thrive
nothing must be left below
they must sway and dance day and night.

Every blooming thing has beauty
natural and not contrived
spreading wide enough to gather
all the bouncing shining lights.

Every blooming thing must produce
their talents must be used
to give love and life
and so be profuse.

Every blooming thing must live
so all their talents they can give
to those weary beaten broken souls 
who need their fragrance to forgive!