PIYP Day 2019: Heather Cadsby


Quick Question

by Heather Cadsby


Speaking of good parenting
I asked her how to be a natural mother. Or she asked me.
It was blowing up a storm and we all knew a south wind brings rain.
At least in that area. You couldn’t drink the lake water.
One father added chlorine to a pail of it. The speaker said
boiling would have worked. But it was all after the fact.

No one succeeded at farming and every story was terrible.
I wanted to make pine-needle pin cushions to sell. Child’s play
but I didn’t know how or when to be the mother.
The area was granite rock covered with roots. I was searching
for earth though most girls wanted saddle shoes.

But, and here’s where it gets confusing, someone yelled
Listen to this:
I am a rigid angry thing trying to be a mother.
I am a wild shaking thing trying to be a mother.
Don’t you know a mother can be a thing of arrogance and narrow mind?

I was leaning on my elbows and staring off.

They said the mother went back into the house-on-fire.
They said the father went too.
They said the parents didn’t know the baby was already out and safe.
It grew up as best it could.


Previously published in Could Be (Brick Books, 2009).

Download the League’s 2019 Poem in Your Pocket Day Booklet here.
Download this poem as a postcard, designed by Megan Fildes, here.

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Heather Cadsby is the author of five books of poetry. Her most recent book is Standing in the Flock of Connections (Brick Books, 2018). 

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