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About this Poem 

“As the poem expresses, there are subjects that seem to baffle poets more than others, the subject of our mothers being very high on that list. What glorious, enraging, most essential beings mothers are. And while I have the moment, let me dedicate this to Margaret Belieu, who once wisely told me ‘I always knew your brother would walk straight down the hallway, but it seemed important to let you bounce off the walls.’”

—Erin Belieu

Another Poem for Mothers

Erin Belieu, 1967

Mother, I'm trying
to write
a poem to you—


which is how most
poems to mothers must
begin—or, What I've wanted
to say, Mother.
..but we
as children of mothers,
even when mothers ourselves,

cannot bear our poems
to them. Poems to
mothers make us feel

little again. How to describe
that world that mothers spin
and consume and trap

and love us in, that spreads
for years and men and miles?
Those particular hands that could

smooth anything: butter on bread,
cool sheets or weather. It's
the wonder of them, good or bad,

those mother-hands that pet
and shape and slap,
that sew you together
the pieces of a better house
or life in which you'll try
to live. Mother,

I've done no better
than the others, but for now,
here is your clever failure.

From The Poet's Child (Copper Canyon Press). Copyright © 2002 by Erin Belieu. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press.

From The Poet's Child (Copper Canyon Press). Copyright © 2002 by Erin Belieu. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 25, 1967, and received a BFA from the University of Nebraska, an MFA from Ohio State University, and an MA from Boston University.

by this poet

poem
When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can't say I'm completely shocked,

having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not

exceptional. The particulars of 
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large, 
memory gnawing it like

a fat dog, are
poem

Field is pause   field is plot   field is red chigger bump where

the larvae feed   corn wig curled in your ear. Field cares not

a fig for your resistance   though kindly   gently   lay your

head down   girl   lay it down.
   When ready   storm   when

summer   kilned