The Way My Mother Speaks, by Carol Ann Duffy

The Way My Mother Speaks

I say her phrases to myself

in my head

or under the shallows of my breath,

restful shapes moving.

The day and ever. The day and ever.

The train this slow evening

goes down England

browsing for the right sky,

too blue swapped for a cool grey.

For miles I have been saying

What like is it

the way I say things when I think.

Nothing is silent. Nothing is not silent.

What like is it.

Only tonight

I am happy and sad

like a child

who stood at the end of summer

and dipped a net

in a green, erotic pond. The day

and ever. The day and ever.

I am homesick, free, in love

with the way my mother speaks.


From THE OTHER COUNTRY (1990), by Carol Ann Duffy

The Way My Mother Speaks


Carol Ann Duffy (born 23 December 1955) is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain’s Poet Laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.


Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985); Selling Manhattan (1987), The Other Country (1990) and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence in language is very accessible, giving her words wide reach.

Image (portion):  The Three Ages of Woman, by Gustav Klimt

The Way My Mother Speaks

PicMonkey Collage


2 Comments Add yours

  1. calmgrove says:

    The shock of the familiar is surely the way the poem you’ve quoted speaks to us, wherever we’re from. Perfect, just perfect.


    1. Yes, just reading the poem has made me think again of all the things my mother used to say to me, some of them the meaning of which has been lost. And I pass these on to my daughter, and wonder if my grandmother spoke them to my mum.

      Liked by 1 person

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