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BABEL

by Maureen Glaude

We were fine
till the tower of Babel trashed our tongues
which used to link our minds —
mid-aged mother, teenage girl
the colonial door I installed for you
slams to guard your mystery moods

In a week you’ll be sixteen
and refuse to be called a woman
you’re hanging on
with the tenacity that awarded you
the highest perch in our old oak’s arms
those summers gone

daughter, I hear you, listen to you
most days our language meets
biteless words, laughter on walks,
easy repartee

then sparks ignite and sting
for each of us, no hurt so fierce
what did I say? What tone did I impose
that spurned you in such hostility
into an unknown entity
who does not recognize me
so assaults me with her voice?

Aren’t you the girl who showered delight
for my stories, hours ago?
Laughed to tears with me
in our favourite café?
Pioneered our strolls on birch-lined paths?

Aren’t you the girl, who, as a babe
patted my back for your own aches
poked wet fingers through my hair
joyshine on your cheeks as I drew near?

I feel your highs and lows.
The turmoil of your tender years.
I see you are a twinning bough
that longs to seize your own sky space
yet needs to hold on fast


the moments free of Babel’s curse
we cherish, stoked by the dreams
for all the time we must not waste
and so we trash the tower.

05/05/1995

Author's Note: Posted for a poet-friend, to whom I sent this too, as she's just starting to go through this and is bewildered with the experience. She knows that it all turned out beautifully for my daughter and I, who are very close and who even still lives with us, for another year or so, and who I'll really miss when she leaves. So there's hope at the end of the tunnel.

Posted on 12/06/2006
Copyright © 2021 Maureen Glaude

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gregory O'Neill on 12/06/06 at 07:24 PM

Hi Maureen. I think this is just beautiful. Love the tone and the images. A fav and potd suggestion. Enjoyed this!

Posted by Michelle Angelini on 12/07/06 at 02:25 AM

Maureen, how tender these words are in trying to heal and understand the rift between the ages. If I could be sixteen and have my Mother back, I'd do my best to change something, anything to hold onto her just a moment longer. How little we know as we travel along the road to independence, never realizing that even though we are granted wings to fly, the nest is always the safe place to which we long to return even as adults.
~Chelle~

Posted by Bruce W Niedt on 12/08/06 at 04:35 PM

Obviously I have never experienced this (father-son isn't quite the same thing - I have no daughters) but you tell it so eloquently, so movingly, that I feel I have some idea now what the experience is like. Beautifully done, effective metaphor, it all works. Bravo! d:-)

Posted by Sandy M. Humphrey on 12/08/06 at 07:49 PM

No daughters have I but I have a neice that has a troublesome relationship with her mother, I am her safe harbor and I relate to the closeness that you two share. The imagery and emotion here is beautiful. smh

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 12/09/06 at 03:00 PM

A worthy expression of mother/daughter relationship. Nice to see another example of how lessons in the bible can be applied to the here and now. I know through my relationship with my son, seems we often speak different languages, unable to understand one another, but as we get older thankfully that has changed, but still a ways to go. Well done.

Posted by Kathleen Wilson on 12/09/06 at 10:56 PM

The fine imagery of tower and tree is glowing here-- and the symbolic "colonial door I installed for you/slams"...) extremely effective. I love the touches of detail-- this door, the cafe, the "old oak" climbing... all these give personality and intimacy. And the "twinning bough" just wonderful!

Posted by Genevieve Sturrock on 12/11/06 at 03:26 AM

you give me a light at the end of my very dark tunnel...my own is not quite a teen, but already a stranger.

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