The Way My Mother Speaks
by Michael Woods
The poet thinks fondly of her mother as, during a lonely train journey, she repeats some of her familiar uses of language.
In common with 'Before You Were Mine' in Mean Time this is a love poem to the poets mother. The constructions used by her mother offer consolation and comfort. Her 'phrases' may be 'under the shallows' of her own 'breath' indicating the intimate link between mother and daughter but she is also aware of the journey she took away form childhood so vividly recalled in 'Originally'. She experiences a curious mixture of emotions as, on a journey 'down England' with its 'too blue' sky she becomes:
like a child
who stood at the end of summer
and dipped a net
in a green, erotic pond.
Of course she is still that child in a sense since we are what we were and this explains her continued love for her mother's phrase 'The day and ever'. This construction is Scots or Irish for 'since' but has a greater lyrical charge. No matter what attractions the world of adulthood may have held the emigration from childhood referred to in 'Originally' often results in that adult trying to revisit the fondly remembered security of home. As the penultimate poem in the The Other Country it stands as a cherished, peaceful oasis of communion despite the reality of the poet being in 'The other country' in both a literal and metaphorical sense as she was born in Scotland and clearly inhabits an adult realm.