I was first introduced to the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy during my university years. We read Little Red Cap and I was hooked. It was the first time we read witty, modern, female-centred poetry. I loved it. This poem isn’t funny but it is beautiful. It’s an ode to her daughter, the light gatherer in her life. She paints a picture of motherhood and the happiness it brings her with the imagery of light. A real mother-daughter poem.
When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candleworth under the skin, enough light to begin,
and as you grew,
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,
warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
the light of a smile after your tears.
Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I’d enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,
the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,
and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.
Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,
and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,
like a jewelled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnel of years.
Carol Ann Duffy