Monday, May 14, 2007

Coming of Age

Poetry Thursday this week asks for humourous poetry. Though I certainly have a sense of humour, I'm not renowned for my humourous verse. I have performed this poem on occasion and the first time I read it, I was entirely disconcerted by the laughter from the audience. I had been quite upset by the incident in the poem when it had happened (this poem is largely autobiographical). However on reflection I realised it could be sort of funny (though not for me personally!). So what do you think?

Coming of Age

Scared of your slender blossoming beauty,
Mother dresses you in baggy clothes,
chops off your auburn hair,

bans make-up, jewellery and perfume,
points out fat-legged girls in mini-skirts
to say ‘no-one looks good like that!’

You return from your first term away
bright with friendships, ideas
and a rucksack of fashionable new clothes.

One afternoon, while you’re out,
she black sacks your prized new possessions,
visits Oxfam but describes a theft.

Thin-lipped, she marches you to BHS
for modest brown tweed
to mark your new adulthood.

Next term end, she puzzles
over your absence, your
postcards from Paris and Milan.

first published in Envoi.


SLW said...

Very nice! To her, never connecting, you were always absent, she just didn't get it... until you left.

Also fun to see another side of "crafty"...

Anonymous said...

yes, this poem sounded a bit humourous to me the first time I read it.

Clare said...

I got angry reading this, and sad too. But relieved that you left and also traveled. I'm having a bit of trouble finding humor because of the pain she caused you. If it was purely fiction, I could see some humor more easily. You wrote this beautifully and with such feeling. And your descriptions were so clear I could totally visualize this too.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Clare - thanks! only bits of it are actually true, it is embellished to some extent.

s.l.white - thanks - I always hope the other side of Crafty Green Poet is fun!

Nia - a bit humorous is about right!

Clare said...

I'm so glad only bits of it are true!! I'm sorry I took it too seriously -- I was all ready to go yell at your mom! How embarassing. I can see some of the humor in your poem now!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Claire - don't worry, I did say it was largely autobiographical (which it is - just not entirely!). My Mum didn't actually cut off my hair or give away new clothes and I've never been to Milan. The rest is more or less true.

Rob Kistner said...

God - didn't our parents try their best to protect us. If my step-parents ever knew the stuff I did they would turn in tier graves -- and they been dead a long time!

Nice piece, fun read :)

GreenishLady said...

'True' or 'not-true' didn't matter to me in the reading of it. I found it deeply poignant and sad, and I can't imagine that I'd have been amused to hear it read either. Goes to show that poems affect people in different ways.

Anonymous said...

Hi Crafty.

I do see the humour in this. The struggle between selves. The practical side and the dress up and party side. :)



SquareTraveler said...

It is certainly ambiguous. I'd say the mood of the poem is influenced by the mood of the reader. Either way, it's very good.

Regina said...

Oh, it's kind of humorous in a bittersweet kind of way- plus, it's all something we can relate, too, in some way or another. Sometimes shared experiences can bring on a kind of comraderie between people who never met. This can create some lightheartedness, like "I guess I wasn't the only one!" kind of thing!
It really was wonderful, Juliet! We didn't have the problem of clothes because we always wore uniforms! I see the wisdom in that now!

Unknown said...

I didn't feel it was funny. But maybe your prefacing that this was from a hard part of your own life influenced me. The Oxfam part is just sad. It makes me think of too many of the families I work with.
That being said, I think it is a wonderful poem.

Lisa Cohen said...

The irony in this, very clear. I like the postcards at the end--and glad the narrator ditched the sensible brown tweed.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful poem. The sadness and disconnect between parent and child really comes through in this poem. I really enjoyed this one!

paris parfait said...

Love this poem and the silent tug-of-war going on that's so artfully described.

Deb said...

There's a certain wryness, in the last stanza, particularly the word "puzzle", that made me smile. But I don't think I would have laughed out loud--too poignant for that. I miss some of the character in the GB language...don't know Oxfam, but get the gist, I think. Awful to be lied to.

gautami tripathy said...

This reminded me of most Indian mothers...:D

Catherine said...

I think perhaps those who found it humorous were laughing at themselves as much as you, if the poem brought a moment of recognition to them. For me, I felt pain and sadness for the narrator - but my mother was nothing like that.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

I'm not sure how I would have reacted had I read it without knowing some truth existed, in one mood I may have grinned a few times, but mostly I saw sadness, a wish of the author to be "herself" and "understood" and her determination to that end. So, sad on the one hand, and hopeful on the other, but the point is really that I loved the way it was written.

chicklegirl said...

As a veteran of fashion wars with my own parents, I related to this. I also liked the bittersweet way you captured the idea that the root issue (at least it seemed to me) is the mother not being able to let go of a little girl who is already gone.

Anonymous said...

Not funny. I found it heartbreakingly sad.

Jan said...

i find your poem to be written from a serious stance and honestly see no real humor in it; you expressed how it felt to not have a 'voice', and then you expressed quite succinctly, that you were able to 'emancipate' yourself. it's hard for mothers to let go; it's also hard for daughter's to have a 'voice', especially if the mom is at all domineering. that way MY mother too. she bought me the red and black tweed coat to wear in middle school, when all the other kids were wearing peacoats. she still talks about it i didn't appreciate the coat, etc. let's just say that when my daughter was in middle school, she wore a peacoat!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks Jan - I would have appreciated your input at the reading in question!