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Image by Sixteen Miles Out


the madrigal, volume v

Writing to Your Mother

by paul stephenson

Whenever I sit down to write to your mother
there’s the question of you,
and whenever you come into my head
there’s the decision to be made
whether or not to mention your name.

Whenever I go to mention your name
it’s another reminder you’ve gone
and whenever your goneness seems violent
and I recall your mother will be reading my words
I search for something more upbeat.

Whenever I start searching for what’s upbeat
I end up mining for a funny episode,
an anecdote, falling back on your silliness,
and see your mother’s eyes passing over my words,
her mouth turning up at the edges.

Whenever your mother’s mouth turns up at the edges
she’s using the many muscles it takes to smile
and in the process, that small smile
may fool her into thinking she is living
a moment of happiness.

Paul Stephenson’s third pamphlet is Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press). He co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and is currently based in Brussels. / instagram: paulstep456 / twitter: @stephenson_pj

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