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May 23, 2012


Feels like yesterday.

What beautiful poems. What a beautiful image. What a beautiful remembrance.

Today is my mother's birthday (76, but shhh, don't tell :-) so this post is especially poignant for me...

Thinking of you, dear Beth.

I remember those. Yes. Wonderful.

Wishing you peace and serenity, Beth, on this special day.

Thank you all, very much.

Thank you for the chance to read these again, Beth....

Blogging can have a tangential effect on one's mourning. In 1971, when my family and I were living in Pittsburgh I received a phone call just before Christmas from my brother that my mother, living in Yorkshire, was grievously ill. In fact she died over Christmas but I didn't learn of this because of delays in the transatlantic service typical at that time of the year. I flew back to the UK, attended the funeral and a few months later we all returned to the UK for good. We'd been in the US about six years at the time I've never been entirely sure whether it was my mother's death that triggered the return.

I didn't have any particular physical memento of my mother but I was lucky in the intangibles she had left me. My mother had written novels (unpublished) and poetry (quite a bit published) and it was through her influence that I took up journalism which lasted the whole of my working life.

Decades passed and I doubt a day went by without my thinking about her. In 2009 I started blogging and after a year or so I posted one or two Shakespearean format sonnets on joky cynical lines. Where the impulse came from I do not know since I had read almost no poetry beforehand, let alone written any. Perhaps a year later I suddenly decided to write a serious sonnet about that awful Christmas in Pittsburgh, now forty years in the past. The structure is defective but a couple of lines do represent my feelings. Of course I was writing for her not for anyone else. I thought about the lines of communication that went back to my childhood when I borrowed her double-keyboard typewriter to write stories. I wondered whether an imperfect bit of poetry was a satisfactory tribute or not. In the end of course the range of options is small. I see you are talking about a gap of six years and that particular remembrance; I hope that scene stays sharp for you and does not blur.

Yes, Pica, I was glad to re-read them and revisit some memories of the writer and other friends at that time!

Lorenzo, thanks for sharing these stories and your own poetic journey with your mother in mind. And thank you for your wish -- I hope my memories of her stay sharp too.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.