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by Jacqui Whittingham 

Posted: 11 May 2003
Word Count: 107
Summary: This is the first poem I have ever submitted outside of a safe environment-I'm not sure what to expect. The poems title tells you everything you need to know. The poem is very simple. The immense joy of becoming a Mother has the razor sharp edge of fear cutting right through it.

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Looking down into pools of dark laughter
My core lifts and a breath is missed
You make me strong and vulnerable
For you I would do anything, anything

Pictures in my mind, a running film
Things that may or may not happen.
Itís easier to visualise the things I fear
Than dare hope for the things I dream

In denial the day you came
Could not allow acceptance until certain
That the pains that tore me apart
Brought you safely to the world

Oh but what a world. How can I think it safe
When each day brings news of more to come
The torment of giving life is nothing
When you have so much to lose.

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Comments by other Members

breeksy at 07:43 on 12 May 2003  Report this post
Wow, this sums up how I felt for the first three years of my sons life, and to a certain extent, still do. I find it incredibly powerful, but part of that may be because, being a mother, I have been there and felt that.

My one criticism is I don't like the line 'For you I would do anything, anything' - it is a tired phrase, and although I know where you are coming from, it doesn't have the impact that it needs because of the cliche factor. I am not an expert in poetry, however, and others may disagree with me.

Don't worry about posting things here - if all your writing can evoke memories and emotions like this one has for me then I say post more.

Agnieszka Ryk at 08:22 on 12 May 2003  Report this post
This was lovely. Having a nine-month old myself I could strongly relate to the feelings here, but don't think I could express them so well!

"Things that may or may not happen" - I think that's one of the key feelings of parenthood, you have this little bundle of possibilities and there's an almost impossible feeling of impatience there, whilst at the same time, a feeling that you should savour every moment, because it will soon pass.

Many thanks for this.

Hilary Custance at 16:51 on 13 May 2003  Report this post
Jacqui, I have my 22 year old at home, between travels, and I still feel much of what you have described so strongly and well. I think the phrase in your summary about joy with a boundary so clear edged that we know we could fall off at any time, is particularly telling. I rather like the repeated 'anything', but I think I see what is troubling Breeksy, when I said it out loud, I heard the song from Oliver, 'I'd do anything for you, dear, anything...' It's not fair, someone else has always got there first! Keep writing, keep posting them, Cheers, Hilary

Jacqui Whittingham at 18:35 on 13 May 2003  Report this post
Many thanks Breeksy for your positve and encouraging comments.
I understand exactly what you mean about that line. I wrote the poem a couple of months ago and before I uploaded it, that was the only line I felt the need to change. The original line was, 'anything, anything at all'. I'm not sure whether that would have been better - what do you think?
The key word in this line for me is the
word 'could' and I had difficulty deciding whether the meaning I wanted to convey was the 'could' or whether it should be 'would'.
The difference for me was that 'could' conveyed the mother was now empowered with the strength required to achieve amazing things, whereas the 'would' conveyed more of a 'slave' role where the Mother was a victim of the love she felt. Either one is true for me!
I will ponder on this more and see if I can improve that line - thank you again for the immensly valuable feedback!

Jacqui Whittingham at 18:43 on 13 May 2003  Report this post
Many thanks to both Agnieska and Hilary for your kind comments. I'm glad that other Mothers can relate to this. My own child just coming up to 5 years old and the fear and the ties just get stronger.

Hilary - I loved your reference back to Lionel Barts song - I must say I've always loved that soundtrack, but you're right, the words are not original, and the danger is that the meaning I intend is lost as a result. I have responded to Breeksy's comments above, and I will see what can be done to make this stronger. Many thanks again.

breeksy at 18:54 on 13 May 2003  Report this post
I think 'would' is better, could leaves the element of 'well, I could ... but I might not ...' whereas would to me sounds sturdier, more forceful. I prefer the version you have included to the original, I think. It's a difficult call.

Reading it again, I'm not sure if it should be changed. The meaning is perfect, and sometimes it is hard to get away from the phrases that are used daily.

Keep writing, I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Anna Reynolds at 22:35 on 14 May 2003  Report this post
Hi Jacqui

nice to see your work on the site- and you're the most popular! what a gorgeous piece too.

Can I make a suggestion?
'could not allow acceptance until certain'- this is the only bit that made me feel uneasy. The sentiment it great, but the language seems a bit clunky here- just an opinio, the rest of the poem is so smooth and emotional without veering into sentimentality that that line jarred.


fevvers at 21:13 on 15 May 2003  Report this post
Dear Jacqui

I enjoyed this poem. I understand the concerns about the 'anything' line being cliched but, coming so soon after the first anything and having no large space between them (say in a line break or verse break) I think it's quite understated, very quiet infact. I was a little uneasy about the inversion at the beginning of the line though. But other than that I liked it.

I do have one worry and that is that sometimes the register seems to change slightly. This poem has a lovely dramatic feel about it but sometimes the language becomes a little too dramatic and it seems to me that this happens in the lines where there is little actual human presence (as opposed to presence that is implied by the line) such as "In denial the day you came / Could not allow acceptance until certain" .. that the taking out of the 'I' in these lines makes the idea a little too portentous which echoes a little negatively on the next wonderful lines. There was an anthology that came out a couple of years ago called Parents that was full of lovely poems about motherhood, you might be interested in it.

I really like the last verse, especially its opening lines, especially the "Oh".

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