Looking at the other side

Another attempt at a cadralor for dverse.

Looking at the other side

Chill, these October mornings,
when jays and magpies squabble to warm their wings,
and mist lies on the meadow.
But the sun rises, even in autumn.

Your first day of school lasted for months, the same fear
that the day would never end, we had abandoned you forever,
until you discovered the delights of cleaning up the painting corner.
I would wait at the door for you, the last child to leave.

There’s anguish in the air, when the year speeds down the incline,
and the wind swings to the east, gusting, cold, and hisses
through the underside of leaves, catching them unawares.
I look for the tight-knuckled buds when the last leaves fall.

I took you to my favourite places, unaware at the time
how dependent you were on me, not knowing the country
or the language, never imagining you might not love what I did.
Time has tangled our memories inextricably, like everything else.

Grey waves slop over the side of the dingy, cold grey
as the sky, as your small face. Tears or spray, both salt,
both blur the horizon, blur past and future.
You sleep, unaware of what you have lost and gained.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

29 thoughts on “Looking at the other side”

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you found shifts between the stanzas. It’s an important element. We (I) tend to stick with different aspects of the same image, which is missing the point.

      1. Yes, it’s very difficult to disconnect from one set image entirely. Maybe I’ll try writing a new stanza every day next time…

    1. It’s not about anyone/thing in particular. I made the last stanza about how past and future, hopes and fears blur for the immigrant, and the second stanza was based on my second child (immigrant too, though) whose morning fears had gone by the evening, but always came back again until she was able to start living in the moment.

      1. Yours and Björn’s comments made me realise how important that final stanza is. We base our interpretation of the poem on it, so it has to send out the right message.

    1. I know couples are supposed to grow together, but it’s comforting to be able to look back and share the same memories, probably the same emotions, though who knows if they were the same at the time?

  1. “when the year speeds down the incline..” That is really outstanding, and leads the mind straight into the coming change written here, which is always coming, no matter how we want the now to be all, or to be the same to those we love as it is to us. There is a great deal of wisdom and also grace in this poem, and as is usual for us humans, it feels as if it did not come easy. A superb use of the form.

    1. Thank you! I think you’re right about how difficult we make everything. We’ve grown a long way away from the essentials and believe that the superfluous is a right. It blinds us to the simple things.

  2. This is incredibly evocative. I am especially moved by; “Grey waves slop over the side of the dingy, cold grey as the sky, as your small face.”💝

  3. I really love this aspect of being a migrant… how the child dis/connects with the mother. This I found especially powerful: not knowing the country
    or the language, never imagining you might not love what I did, and the immigrant children lose the home-land without finding a foothold in the new country.

    1. Thanks for that Björn. I thought there was something not quite right about putting that stanza last, and now I see why. It has given the impression that the whole poem is about the migrant experience which wasn’t my intention at all. It’s true that the threads of hope and memory and how we adjust the past to fit our present run through all the stanzas, but only the last stanza is directly about a migrant mother and child. It’s an important point to bear it in mind that the last stanza is crucial. I’ll tweak the poem to try and get rid of the misapprehension.

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