“Gardener of Small Joys” – Painting by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné
Source: Wings & Fire
My Poetry Corner July 2016 features the poem “Mother in the Morning” by Caribbean poet and artist, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, who lives in the twin island republic of Trinidad & Tobago. Raised by her two grandmothers, her maternal grandmother of East Indian descent and African-Chinese paternal grandmother, Boodoo-Fortuné’s creative work reflects their influence during her formative years.
In her poetry, Boodoo-Fortuné depicts the woman, the sacred feminine, as a hero in her own right regardless of her marital status. This shines through in her featured poem.
In the first stanza, the mother escapes from her morning chores for a moment of solitude.
Mother sips tea in her garden on mornings,
abandoning the kitchen that echoes with breakfast,
lunch kits, laces untied, and the dripping faucet…
The woman’s role as mother does not bind her to the home and caring for her children. She is also a woman who has an inner, separate self, grounded in Mother Earth. The “dripping faucet” suggests that there is no man in her life.
She sits on a cracked footstool in silence
as the heat from the teacup rises,
whispers warm, comforting secrets
only she can understand.
Not only is her life energy sapped daily like the “dripping faucet,” but her family’s future is also at risk of collapsing like the “cracked footstool.” Yet, she does not fall apart. Her inner strength helps her to face another new day.
The second stanza reveals the mother’s relationship with the world and its inherent dangers for a woman.
There are sharp things in the ground
and her hands are soft
but she never wears gloves…
She doesn’t shield herself from being hurt. In doing so, she would also lose the richness that life offers through human relationships.
She is not afraid of the damp, dark earth
with its shards of buried glass and crawling creatures.
She has planted hope,
seen it grown tall.
In her connection with the creative forces of Mother Earth, the mother knows the power of love and hope for the future that she carries deep within her womb.
In the third stanza, the mother becomes a new type of woman born of her pains and struggles as well as those of former generations of women.
When my mother’s hands are in the dew-damp earth
and she is fragile in the morning light,
sharp things are buried in her, …
Though a woman may appear fragile, she has grown strong through her daily struggles to rise above her subservient role in a violent and patriarchal world.
and I realize how the fluorescent kitchen light dims her,
hides the secret flower she is growing
that only blooms when she does.
Until the woman gains equal status with her male counterpart, her gift to the world remains diminished and suffocated. Without her voice in policy-making at all levels of society across our world, there can be no end to the violence she endures daily, the growing chaos, and endless wars.
To learn more about Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné and her work, go to my Poetry Corner July 2016.