November 24, 2014 | ,

Mother’s Night

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: “Shadow dance” by Karoly Czifra


Night in the house of my childhood
invaded more than corners: it crept into the soul,
a golem breeding nightmares. Awakened by my screams,
mother came to my bedside offering comfort.
She sat there, a dark shadow, her glinting eyes
in deeper pools of darkness. And I agreed
that I was comforted, oh quickly comforted
(Please go away again, because I know,
mother, you are the monster from the closet,
the witch from the wardrobe); praying in my cold innards
that she would return to her own room before
the changeling process started and I was devoured.

Not long afterward, her screams would wake the fitful house.
Beside her bed, the spinning motes of darkness
took on a towering shape, the menacing, sardonic
Hex Woman of her nightmares, a figure introduced
into my mother’s childhood by her mother. On it goes,
and who is there to save us from our mothers?
What storybook hero armored in bright sunlight
can conquer fear inbred by blood and bone,
the secret knowledge that we can do monstrous,
endless harm to one another?

There is a darkness
born of the bloodline, wearing the mask of comfort,
waiting for night to eat its own child’s soul.


Carol Clark Williams is poet laureate emeritus of York, Pennsylvania, and facilitates the “Poetry Spoken Here” readings for the open air Yorkfest arts festival in August. She teaches poetry workshops for high school students, senior centers, support groups, and residents of institutions. Carol’s poems have been published in print and online journals including Mad Poets …

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