Another day of celebrations, at least, in this neck of the woods. It’s a national holiday today, as it’s Royal Wedding Friday. Perhaps this will kick off a fashion of having weddings on weekdays? But it’s enough for our purposes that the British Royal Family has helpfully highlighted Friday as an official Day of Awesome. It’s Poetry Friday, wot, wot? Cause for celebration every single week.
This week is the last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month, and we have one last poem from the Oakwood Poetry Project on MARE’S WAR. This week’s poet is Sophie, who shares with us via collage a number of images of working women from WWII. While we have Lady Victory, clad in the flag, we have, too, Riveter Rosie and her cohorts, hair covered, overalls on, and ready to work for the good of the nation. The focus here is strong women, capable women, soulful sisters who sang and played and made their way through what was mostly seen as a man’s world. I love the movies and musical photographs chosen as well.
Today’s poem is entitled, “Everything She Wasn’t.” As before, the poem is copyrighted to the poets, — please respect the integrity of the poet, and do not reprint without their permission. Thanks.
Motherhood was considered the highest work of an American woman during the time of the War, and Sophie’s poem focuses on both Mare, and her mother, Edna Mae, and their work as mothers. “Edna Mae Boylen was not good at it/ She was not fit,” Sophie states. And indeed, this is supported by her unpacking the first few lines of the novel, which are used in the beginning of the poem:
“Watch yourself”/ Is what she always said/When I got myself into trouble/
Was it really a/ Show of affection/ Or just her way of lettin’ me know/ I was on my own (emphasis mine).
Did you ever read that phrase that way? In Sophie’s keen ear, “Watch yourself” changes from being a parental warning not to cross a line, or a caution, to “watch yourself, ’cause I’m not watching you.” What an isolating, lonely-making statement. What could have been a statement of parental care becomes the ultimate declaration of “fend for yourself, kid.”
And yet, while identifying that Mare had a sucky mother, and her mothering skills were shaky at best, the poem goes on to celebrate Mare’s relationship to her grandchildren. “In my world/I’m nothing like her/And I know it/ Talitha and Octavia know it/ I want/ A better life for/ My granddaughters.” Because of Mare’s determination and foresight, not only do her granddaughters have better, she finally knows the truth about herself: she is everything, everything her mother was not.
On that satisfying note, we end our visit with the Oakwood School — thank you so much, Diana and Michelle, for sharing your students work, and thank you, poets, for being willing to be shared on my blog! Poetry Friday is brought to you by the number 6, and is hosted today at Tabatha Yeatt’s blog.