It represents a half a lifetime of reading and thinking and writing about the sacred feminine. We hear much more about the fertile mother goddesses and forget sometimes that her cycle includes death and descent to the Underworld, as in Inanna's story. Joan Borysenko first introduced me to this story in her book, A woman's journey to God. Then I went to a workshop in NY City where we embodied the descent to Erishkegal's realm, and encountered what was buried, rejected or neglected in ourselves.
My first book "Little Mother", a book of poems and birth journal, dealt a bit with my mother's alcoholism and how it affected my childhood, and later my mothering. This poem was written when I was fifty, and reconciling the love-hate, love-anger, of this primal relationship.It is unpublished, so far, because my mom is still living, still alert and feisty at age 87, and I didn't want to hurt her feelings by including it in my last book, For the Birds.
Birth and Death Mother
In she walked late last night, tiny black shoes
like a Chinese woman, dangling a box of Timbits.
Little elder, not too wrinkled for 73,
alone now since the death of my father.
Night owl, no innocent Madonna, long ago she drank
herself into oblivion on the living room couch.
Now food allergies, gut rot coffee keep her up all night.
She dozes all day – vampire shift.
Vacuum’s growl prods her out of bed.
City trucks, leaf blowers prowl, gruesome
chopping noises, Cyclops’ jaw crunching bone.
Oh deity, if you are mother, you are also a
devourer of small children..
Birth and death mother, knick-knack
beehive hair on Fridays at the salon mother,
fruitcake ukulele singing mother,
are you in there, are you up?
Singing in the rain, musical junkie mother,
‘a hundred thousand miracles’ mother,
can-can dancing mother,
basement smoking on the john mother,
teeth grinding drool-stained pillow mother,
leftover butt stale ashtray mother,
vanilla in your coke-glass mother,
crispy pig knuckles baked beans in a pot mother,
bend me over your knee with a wooden spoon mother,
smack me on the head with your plastic hairbrush mother,
leave me alone with the seven dwarfs mother,
‘couldn’t have done it without your help’, mother,
never forgive never say sorry mother,
black holes blank history mother ---
tie me up in a leash to my bed suck my thumb mother,
cry too long for you not coming mother.
botched suicide attempt lady Lazarus mother.
I try to cut you away
but you stick like Velcro.
my healing & anger are wrapped up
in letting your squirming body off the hook,
where you hang in the Underworld.
Since I’m down here anyway, I may splash a little cologne
from the plant of life, resurrect you,
Queen of the revenants,
beg you to join us in the dawn of the living.
I would have left you rotting on that perpetual tree,
but they told me I could not come back up alone,
until I have settled with you,
flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.
What will I sacrifice? Hardly anything.
I will let the mother god know I am hers, and that one day,
my own daughter will be down here to claim my corpse,
draw me through her ragged skin-cape.
This is how the living feed off the dead.
And the dead feed off the living.
SoulCollage(R) cards for Inanna's Descent, meeting Erishkegal in Underworld.