Call and Response
is a sequence of sonnets from the perspective of a daughter, addressed to her mother during her mother's illness. Hard-edged yet tender, the poems explore the darker side of familial bonds and the strange ways suffering can heal old wounds. April.
The relief of finding you perched
on your hospital bed. Lipsticked and cashmered.
Defiantly undimmed. Twelve hours post-op,
you’ve drunk them out of tea and think you’d
like to go now. Nurses calling you the Steve
Redgrave of patients. Your healing seeded centuries
ago, tough as the ash trees fighting their way through frost-bitten Polish soil,
hunger for a better life incubating in clogged, shtetl
light. And yes, I’m proud to be
your daughter. We’ve cared what the neighbours thought since we were in the caves. My ancestral grannies counted grapefruit spoons, possessed small dishes shaped like avocados.