Mother’s Algebra

Joined still to her mother’s placental algebra,
she solves puzzles of love, life and parabola;
sucking subtractions at a withering breast,
expressing equations many years suppressed.
Mathematics learned at the maternal knee
curves and circles into geometry.
Kim M. Russell, 9th August 2018

Image result for paintings and artwork mother and child connected by umbilical cord
Image found on Pinterest

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Wordy Thursday with Wild Woman: Piggyback Poems

This Thursday, Sherry is our host with a post based on ‘The Horses, the Sorrow, the Umbilicus’ by Maureen Hynes, a new poet to me. I enjoyed the poem and the prompt, which is to choose one line from this poem or another poem of our choice, and make it the first line of a new poem. I chose the line: ‘joined still to her mother’s placental algebra’.

28 thoughts on “Mother’s Algebra

  1. A math teacher’s delight, Kim. Math in action, math and puzzles of love and life. Very pleasant for this fellow here with a math minor. I tell my nine-year-old grandaughter that math is like working puzzles but she isn’t sure of that. Programming a computer is also like working puzzles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A complex poem full of depth and feeling. I always had no problems with math or English except, I couldn’t diagram sentences. I love this short poem about the days when women were not allowed to learn, how they learned in spite of laws and prejudice. The rhymes are flawless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Toni! Ages ago, I watched an interesting TV programme about exceptional women who were fluent in maths, chemistry, physics, all those subjects women were held back from in the past. It made me wonder how it must have felt to be a second-class (or even third, fourth…) when your head is full of ideas. I thought of Mary Shelley and her mother, who were strong and privileged, so they were able to stand up to the nay-sayers. No wonder so many women were stuck in asylums.


  3. This is a fascinating poem, and as noted, you’ve taken a really “hard line” – for its sound and complexity, and totally have run with it, bringing it to a new dimension. It’s about equations, isn’t it? Life, generally – how we solve problems, sometimes adhering to rules, following the expected routes, but formula … well, to play with words …. well, nothing can suppress a spirit who chooses to learn, and to share, despite what the governance says “must be” ….

    This poem grows on you Kim – it’s truly well done, and crafted. Get point of inspiration and fascinating how you’ve truly made it your own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pat. It’s so satisfying when other people understand and appreciate a poem, especially as I really wasn’t sure about this one. I could have chosen a line from another poem, but this one spoke to me – the way certain lines do – and, although I didn’t struggle with the next line, I did write too much and had to trim it down. But then I’m often surprised by the poetry I write and also by its reception. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean. I too chose a hard line/opening (from a different poem) and ended up over-writing …. but then, I was having trouble with the “voice of it, the pace, the cadence etc.” – so I just let it sit for a few hours, and eventually, I was able to loosen up and go. And sometimes, it’s these “challenges” – where we’re inspired, and we know that it might not be easy, that actually bring us right out of our comfort zones, and we end up with something finished, that actually is “better” than we thought it could/should have been. “Different” (in approach, content, style etc.) isn’t a bad thing, it’s just “different” – and often it’s just time needed to sit with it, and let it breathe, before we can figure out how we really feel about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It may have been a difficult line but didn’t it produce a fantastic poem! Sadly gender prejudice is alive and well in this age to my horror and sadly still has a band of rabid enthusiasts.


  5. i love the phrase you chose for your title, Kim, and the whole piece provides a totally different depiction of the words. I am in awe of the tight weave of your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “expressing equations many years suppressed.” This relates to what others have said — those times when women were only taught housewifely/homemaking tasks. Have you read the book Pope Joan, a novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross? It’s quite fascinating. She’s taken a popular legend about a woman who reigned for a short time in the medieval ages as a pope….hid her gender in her schooling and to, in those days, the ultimate position of power. It’s quite fascinating! And a real page turner….and an eye into the medieval ages.

    Liked by 1 person

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