Monday, March 28, 2011

Cradle song

(based on suggestions from @GretasTARDIS, @pinknantucket, @sushipyjamas, @VayaPashos, @sulphura, @ernmalleyscat, @TheEndeavour, @sorrel_smith, and @matchtrick)

Weeding new-curled peas

sleeping pods grab us

jerk back, striped like tigers.

Tendrils stick like velcro fingers

of a kid picked up from daycare.

Go see Nanna? Nanna’s not here.

Pig go noik noik

Elephant go woooooooo

Luka funny sausage.

Tardis go vroom tardis blue

and there’s nothing I can do

to solve the days I make you cry.

Google your ancestors, find galaxies

of bastard brothers and sisters.

Keyword search my baby's words:

“Bisley chicks, chisley bicks.”

No results. “Did you mean: Chisley bikes?”

Search for myself: find an only child.

I was brought here as star people.

See, I have a chicken hat. This is my

other brother from another planet.

Make him welcome. Sing cradle songs,

tell my boy all this static and interference

is not his inheritance, not his fault.

I muted his soprano

Attacca like absence at high pitch.

So angry; full of sliced-up fire.

My fairyfloss boy sang alone

while four hundred years ago

a baby went to sleep.

I can see their faces in my eyes

All blood runs down my blue lines

into the earth my bedroom. The warmth

is lovely, only it is such a long time ago.

Once upon a moment we all sang

softly at the same time. Now, and so long ago.


Today’s poem is based on suggestions from nine peeps (another record!):

  • @GretasTARDIS: “South Dakota! Galaxies! Bedrooms!” (I can see their faces in my eyes is a line from South Dakota Morning, just in case you thought I left it out.)
  • @pinknantucket: “How about being on a spaceship?”
  • @sushipyjamas: ” Yeah! Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do.”
  • @VayaPashos: “The 2 yr old thing! Yes!”
  • @sulphura: “see, this is a great idea. I vote stuff my 2 yr old said.”
  • @ernmalleyscat: “bisley chicks and chisley bicks”
  • @ernmalleyscat: “apparently something I said when 2yo” (when I enquired “Is that even a thing?”)
  • @TheEndeavour: “interference”
  • @sorrel_smith: ” while picking green beans, the hairy, 'sticky' leaves grabbing the skin like Velcro, leaving a prickly rash.”
  • @matchtrick: “Siblings! Imaginary or other people's, in surfeits and dearths, adoptive or foster, from another mista/mutha, and in absence.”

I am feeling somewhat like a crap mum at the moment. Luka is 2, and doing all the endearing and infuriating stuff that 2-year-olds do, and I feel like all I do is get horrendously impatient, shout at him and make him cry. Or avoid him so that I won’t end up shouting at him. My self-loathing, let me show you it.

The last two stanzas of this poem contain references to my favourite passage in my favourite book ‘The Children of Green Knowe’ (which I will now quote at you in full), where past and present sing together in one moment:

" As they rested there, tired and dreamy and content, he thought he heard the rocking-horse gently moving, but the sound came from Mrs Oldknow's room, which opened out of the music room. A woman’s voice began to sing very softly a cradle song that Tolly had learnt and dearly loved:

Lully Lulla, Thou tiny little child
By by, Lully Lullay
O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling
For whom we sing
By by, Lully Lullay

'Who is it?' he whispered.
'It's the grandmother rocking the cradle,' said Mrs Oldknow, and her eyes were full of tears.
'Why are you crying, Granny? It's lovely.'
'It is lovely, only it is such a long time ago. I don't know why that should be sad, but sometimes it seems so.'
The singing began again.
'Granny,' whispered Tolly again with his arm through hers, 'whose cradle is it? Linnet is as big as I am.'
'My darling, this voice is much older than that. I hardly know whose it is. I heard it once before at Christmas.'
It was queer to hear the baby's sleepy whimper only in the next room, now, and so long ago. 'Come, we'll sing it too,' said Mrs Oldknow, going to the spinet. She played, but it was Tolly who sang alone, while, four hundred years ago, a baby went to sleep."

I think todayI will sing yesterday to sleep, instead of shouting at it.


Tony said...

For what it's worth, I suspect that feeling like a crap parent is probably part of the job description. I have the same thing so regularly it's frightening. 2 year olds are the most incredible mix of adorable and almost pure frustration. So you're no orphan there.

ALso, I love that Luka has a 'Tardis' noise in his vocab. That, if nothing else, is a tribute to top notch parenting, in my book :)

Thanks for a lovely post.

Lili said...

Oh, lovely! This is one my very favourite Anna poems. And I love that lullaby in Green Knowe - it's one we used to sing at @jellyjellyfish's family Christmas party.

ern malleys cat said...

It's interesting to imagine a phrase of intimate family banter turning up in a word search.

It brings home the fact that we learn about ourselves from our memories and interaction with loved ones, rather than the accepted sources of knowledge.

If you've made a funny sausage you're doing fine.

Colleen Boyle said...

All I can say is: 'Two year olds??? Two year olds are the fuckin WORST!'
Unlike your poem, which is lovely. So keep them up, keep your sanity, ride it out, it will get better.


Anna said...

Oh thanks everybody!
Maybe I haven't broken him just yet :)

Anna said...

@lili - I don't even know the tune to that lullaby, I've never heard it sung.

That's so lovely that you've sung it with Jelly and family.

Lili said...

It's beautiful - one of my favourite carols:

Gin said...

Truly beautiful Anna - my favourite #poembyrequest so far.

Anna said...

All this response is so lovely and unexpected. Thanks everyone.

Anna said...

Oh, the carol makes me cry even more now I've actually heard it!