Glory Days, Kerry Darbishire & Kelly Davis
Hen Run, 2021 £4.00
‘Glory Days’ includes thematic work from two writers. Their subject comprises aspects of motherhood, and daughter-mother relationships, from courtship to bereavement. And, intriguingly, the cover features a childhood photograph of each poet with her mother — but without credits to reveal identities.
The poems are accessible and life-affirming, even when dealing with painful issues. In ‘Can A Woman Go Crazy After Giving Birth?’ Darbishire writes vividly about leaving her daughter outside a shop in a moment of postpartum psychosis, and her horror when she realises what she’s done:
I swung out, swept down the road
mac flapping like drowning hands
knowing nothing of the pavement or rain,
imagining her alone … crying … gone.
Shoppers had gathered tut-tutting unfit mother
like gnats around a wound, and there
in her pram, safe as a dipper in a stream, my daughter
I love the similes, drawing upon the wildlife of their native Cumbria, where both poets now live. ‘Drowning hands’ links with a Davis poem, ‘8th September, 1972’, reflecting upon the way the death of a sibling was eventually accommodated by her mother:
For years afterwards her drawing gave you comfort —
the circle face and smiling mouth
the stick body, arms outstretched
the vertical blue lines above, below.
For you, her crayon drawing
showed a figure falling through water,
proof that your child knew
and welcomed her fate.
Another favourite poem, Darbishire’s ‘Mirrors’, recollects the poet coming in as a teenager while her mother is playing the piano:
filling the air with passion, her fingers
swimming fast as brook lamprey
to spawning waters, oblivious to me
creeping in late to the hallway — that frozen
in-between place I’d check my hair,
hide love-bites, the warm scent of a boy.
It’s followed by Davis’s ‘I Picture What Will Be Left’:
[ ... ] in my mirror —
the sweep of your fringe, the curve of your lips
passed from you to me
from me to my sons
down the generations
through a hall of mirrors.
Fruit of a workshop exercise about mirrors? Lovely, either way — and Davis’s lines do provide a clue about those cover photos!