Daughter Of Radicals

Hey everyone. On what would have been my mother’s 84th Birthday This poem written for day 16 of NaPoWrIMo recalls with a combination of Love and brutality my memories of a woman who gave many of the values i hold today such as fairness, honesty, and generosity of spirit. However, as you shall see, though we agreed on much we also had our fair number of disputes, and with the plain speaking for which i famous i am not afraid to say where i believe she got it very badly wrong. I have given it the title Daughter Of Radicals i hope you find it an enjoyable but thought provoking read.

Daughter Of Radicals

A daughter of radicals
yet she was conservative
this woman spelled caring with a capital C
but liberal with only a small L.
A sense of duty defined her
molded her into who she became
the unspoken head of the house
though she tried to pin that one on my dad

My mother had a neatness obsession
untidiness drove her mad.
A place for everything
and everything in it’s place
was more than a phrase
it was the mantra by which she lived her life.

God knows, what she would make
of my untidy habits.
Tights and magazines strewn across the floor
i think she tut and shake her in despair.
It’s just the way she was,
the powerful figure of the centre of the family

Protestant with a small P
she displayed her borrowed colours
in the first weekend each July.
My mother would listen to the words of no surrender
forgetting the fact that when she did surrender to love
she married a catholic

For the rest of the year
her religion was stored in the attic
except at Christmas or New Year parties
when she would go with the flow
selective tolerance the bane of my life
still the beating heart in the schemes
of working class Scotland.

Having said that my mum was a decent woman
who was shaped by a childhood of poverty and war.
of believing in one United Kingdom
this made her resistant to change
preferring things to be ordered
the way she had known them to be .
Imagination wasn’t given free reign ,
that would not be right
it could cause chaos to take root
and that could never be allowed

House proud my mother came from a generation
where women stayed at home
even though, she could have made a decent living
in a well paid job.
I always thought, though not a snob
she had too many airs and graces.
The polar opposite of her own parents
who wouldn’t call the queen their cousin
instead they would refer to her as German
for very political reasons.

A woman for all seasons
my mother knew of my identity
viewing it with shame
like she was somehow to blame
refusing to accept nature’s choice.
Pragmatic, she seldom voiced her opinions
oping to say nothing on politics.
In her own way I think she believed in equality
though she often said i was commie
because i hated bigotry and poverty
Westminster’s twins of despair
I care about humanity
because of who i am.

I get my socialism from my gran
my mother’s own mammy
who knew Scotland’s fight would not be easily won
the old orange drum will beat loudly
though it has no tune worth playing
she once told me be patient
in waiting for the death rattle
it will come in it’s last empty breath

My mother never listened when her mother talked sense
instead she claimed i could be a wee bit fanatical
confrontation was not her style
she would smile like problems didn’t exist
she was conservative but voted Lib-Dem or Labour
this woman born a daughter of radicals.
On this day i remember her write these words
to show we are more alike than i thought
and on what would have been her birthday
i thank her for giving me life

@ Gayle Smith 2015


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