The lost woman

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The lost woman

My mother went with no more warning

Than a bright voice and a bad pain.

Home from school on a June morning

And where the brook goes under the lane

I saw the back of a shocking white

Ambulance drawing away from the gate.


She never returned and I never saw

Her buried. So a romance began.

The ivy-mother turned into a tree

That still hops away like a rainbow down

The avenue as I approach.

My tendrils are the ones that clutch.


I made a life for her over the years.

Frustrated no more by a dull marriage

She ran a canteen through several wars.

The wit of a cliché-ridden village

She met her match at an extra-mural

Class and the OU summer school.


Many a hero in his time

And every poet has acquired

A lost woman to haunt the home,

To be compensated and desired,

Who will not alter, who will not grow,

A corps they need never get to know.


She is nearly always benign. Her habit

Is not to stride at dead of night.

Soft and crepuscular in rabbit-

Light she comes out. Hear how they hate

Themselves for losing her as they did.

Her country is bland and she does not chide.


But my lost woman evermore snaps

From somewhere else: ‘You did not love me.

I sacrificied too much perhaps,

I showed you the way to rise above me

And you took it. You are the ghost

With the bat-voice, my dear. I am not lost.’

-Patricia Beer



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