I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

21 July 2016

Coming a Long, Long Way

“I am cold, even though the heat of early summer is adequate. I am cold because I cannot find my heart.” ~Sebastian Barry from his novel A Long, Long Way

I grew up cold. Frosts every morning
in the long winters – thick and deep, lasting
half the day before they thawed. The wind
biting to the bone, the relentless rain chilling.

I grew up cold. The ice of a mother love
which included criticisms and no cuddles
that I can remember, only the tense few
cheek kisses immediately withdrawn from.

Years later, well into adult life, I always
wore cardigans right into summer, unable
to feel warmth all the way through, inside,
even when I surrounded myself with huggers.

But life is long. I live now in a warm climate
all year round, and I generated enough
warmth from my own heart at last, for others,
that it reflected back to me and filled me.

I no longer wear cardigans in high summer.
That was long ago. I understand now 
that my poor mother loved me, but couldn’t
express it freely from her paralysing lifelong cold.

For dVerse, day 3 of the 5-day fifth anniversary celebrations


  1. I needed this. I get so exhausted from trying to provide all the affection that my little people need that sometimes I bristle at their touch. I know I'll do lasting damage in one way or another, as all parents seem to do. But I want to work hard to avoid what I can. I'm sure that coldness is unbearably painful to deal with.

    The second and fourth stanzas are my favorites. And thanks for reminding me of The Cardigans. ;)

    1. Hug them heartily when you do feel like it, and other times say, 'Sorry, I'm just not feeling very touchable right now.' When mine were small, and constantly called, 'Mum!' I often felt like replying, 'I'm not your mother!' (But I was, of course.) Here's a good thing I read today: 'very few parents wake up in the morning figuring out how to mess up their kids.' I also recall a thing a psychiatrist told me long ago, after working with teenagers, some of whom complained of parental smothering, others of parental indifference: 'There's very bad news for parents. Whatever you did, it was wrong.' I found that extraordinarily freeing. If it was going to be wrong anyhow, it was OK to do the best I could and not bash myself up.

  2. Thank you Rosemary. Your poem makes me shiver (in appreciation).

    1. Shivering from cold you don't need me for, I know, living there where I grew up!

  3. Rosemary, affection that blossoms early in childhood can assist us in both loving ourself & others, but yours is a success story. Parents are just people, with all the foibles & weaknesses therein.

  4. Its hard to grow up with an ice of a mother love. Good for you to surround yourself with huggers and fill yourself love. I guess some people just find it hard to express their love. Good one Rosemary.

  5. Its good you found your warmth, Rosemary! And it's good to read your work again!

  6. Enjoyed this poem very much. I think children know who love them . I don't think they are easily fooled.The smart ones anyway. I watch their little faces when some idiotic school teacher is talking in an affected patronising sing song way to them. They know they are phoneys but also know they must learn to navigate their way through a very complicated social maze of inauthenticity to survive.

  7. I am so glad you found out the why of your mother and how you filled your own life with love so much that it spilled out. Wonderful poem this is. And I wept at the end for both your mother and for you.

  8. Oh so sad, I can recognize this more in my father though.. Some people have that cold, and have never learned to understand that warmth comes from closeness,

  9. to grow up cold and generating warmth for others is not an easy path to walk upon...kudos to your efforts that has ultimately rewarded you...really basked in the warmth of your closing lines...also enjoyed your wisdom in your comments :)

  10. This is so very poignant, Rosemary and I can resonate strongly to this feeling; like Bjorn, I too recognize this in my father as I m not very close to him, though I try but there is just something lacking which can't be described.

  11. This is beautifully done. Heartbreaking in its honesty.

  12. Good observation that we need to give the warmth of love to feel that warmth in return.

  13. This is an amazing write. The repetition of "I grew up cold" and the wearing of the sweater, no matter the weather -- as the manifestation of this upbringing. The turn around in the last stanzas. Yes - I believe we really don't "know" our parents or much about what "made" them who they were. We remember them, knew them as parents not as young adults or the youth or children they once were. My father was "undemonstrative." And yet I know in my heart, he loved. I really enjoyed this write.

  14. I resonate so much wit h this poem, Rosemary, as I shared a similar history. Fortunately, I managed to thaw young enough to have a wonderful life, LOL. I agree, they did the best they could with what they had.