Crossing Point

The main theme of this book is women. 'Mother and Daughter', the core sequence of six poems, recreates the life of my grandmother and the first thirty years of my mother's life, drawing on information my mother gave me. It shows how domination by parents, husband and society restricted a great many women at the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, leaving them dissatisfied and unfulfilled. The poems also show how this legacy is handed down the generations. Here is the last part of 'The Loser', the main poem about my grandmother, Leah:

At last husband, children,
substantial house were notched up
but resentment found cracks.
In the kitchen Leah stirred sauces,
bitter that her husband's sister,
'the duchess', paid state visits
and took over the marriage bed.
She watched him hug
card-playing brothers,
counted his gifts to cousins
and the pittance he put
in her purse, railed
at his robbery of his children.
Sick of constricting routine,
Maurice craved evenings at operettas,
ignored the clatter of complaints.
Cracks became fissures.

When Leah found he'd wrenched free,
unbuttoned for a young girl,
she knew the stain
would never wash out. The family
picked over the disgrace
and 'the duchess' pronounced
the mistress 'Leah's fault.'
Then they locked the secret up.

Littlewood Press 1991
Available from me
Stones mattressed
the undismantled marriage bed.
For three decades
my grandmother's anger mountained,
swirled among the unheard cries
of unfulfilled women.
  A shorter sequence looks at the life of my mother-in-law, a refugee, and the circumstances which shaped her life. The title poem follows her escape from Vienna a few months before the War in 1939.
  There are two poems about famous women and other poems which focus on women and their lives, also a sequence, 'Tongue' that looks at language from different perspectives.
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