15 November 2011

January Child (The Full Version)

It's Open Link Night - week 18 at dVerse- Poets Pub, devoted to the encouragement of poetry and community among poets. Check it out and tell your friends.

January Child

I came along in the dead of winter
born in my own time three weeks late.
Father was at work.
Mother begged a ride from a neighbor
to go and do her woman's work alone.
She napped me on the porch
to be toughened by the snows
and gales of winter,
to cut my teeth on New England nor'easters
and fight the undeclared war against girls.
Middle child, only girl, small for my age.

Both brothers slept the porch in spring
took for granted the abundance
of our neighborhood, the visitors and friends,
the elms and hyacinths, maples and forsythias,
spring greens, yellows and new hues,
the migratory flocks parading back to northern homes.
Both boys read books, played quiet games
grew fat on father's favor.

I grew to a storm-wintered warrior child
sight practiced on bare lilac thicket,
schooled by wind in how the world sounds,
cries accompanied by blackbirds and jays,
layered against the elements.
Perhaps my skirmishes were attempts
to win that unwinable war
but I fought with the fury of calling,
battered brothers' enemies,
marshaled anger from hidden fronts
as I gave birth to myself.

Mary H. Warren

(I published a 100 word version of this poem on 9/30/11. This is the full poem that needed to be written.)


  1. Love the full circle approach here, the close was brilliant, nicely done!

  2. Observations of birth, growing (Brrrrrr!) years, and slow awakening: "gave birth to myself".

    I too, am doing the "Elder" bit, and Sooo appreciate your perspective.

    Ancestor-in-Training--LOVE IT! I'll use that, OK?

    I'm glad--well, happy--to have stopped here tonight!


  3. i am glad you weathered those storms and found yourself honed by them...many go the other way in the face of it....i like that strength in this tale...nicely spun...

  4. vivid, vibrant, powerful You create a picture of your early life I can see.

    good stuff

  5. lovely write... strength... story interest... and said in a beautiful way... and love the twist of nature throughout

  6. This poem side by side with your 'about me' bio provide a strong double snapshot for my first visit to your place. It looks like your early schooling in those tough cold winds have helped make you someone who can greet new challenges today. I like the references to nature in this poem and even without the picture I see in my mind a tree grown strong in the wild wind.

  7. Beautiful write and I do know about those poems that need to be written. You were toughened as a child to become the strong woman of today. Fantastic imagery.\

  8. Love the powerful closing line. I am a Jan child too

  9. The birth and nurturing of a strong woman, simply and eloquently told.

  10. you are why i keep coming back to link night! to find poets like yourself who tell me a story. i absolutely LOVE this and I am truly happy to have found u! I am following!!!


  11. It gave me a shiver, hit an emotional chord. Those were the days. The naming of the bushes, plants and birds intoxicated me. http://looseleafnotes.com

  12. I do love your porch for the scene of your battle to survive and thrive.

  13. beautifully written,mam i have a message on my blog plz visit.

  14. Beautiful! And well done. From the beginning I know so much about the writer, and she's a beautiful person I would love to know in person. Knowing her in our virtual world is awfully nice, too. :-)

  15. Pat, Grazie and welcome.

    Steve, I borrowed the phrase since it feels like what I'm doing, so feel free to as well. Glad you stopped by.

    Lauren, I like accessing this place wherein poems reside.

    Brian, Me too. That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I come from a line of strong women including my mother who put me on that porch to begin with.

    CG, Thanks, I love to think about the seeds of the woman I've become being sowed even then as an infant on that porch.

    WRB, Thank you, It was my first glimpse of nature.

    Mark, I hadn't looked at it that way before but it called on hidden reserves to adapt to life in another country with another language. Glad you dropped in.

    ew, It all played a part. Thanks for your insights.

    Sheila, I was supposed to be a Dec baby held out until Jan. Welcome.

    l2w, When my mother first told of napping me on the porch I thought she was crazy- a newborn out in January? I've come to see it as a unique gift that allowed me, as I grew, to navigate the tricky waters of our difficult family.

    emk, Thank you, it's all reciprocal isn't it? Someone said that we need stories more than food to stay alive. I'll check you out for sure.

    Sally, I'm glad you liked it.

    colleen, I can see that porch and its environs so clearly since it was my grandparent's three family house near Boston.

    Ruth, I can see that it started there and strengthened me.

    Sunny, Will do.

  16. DJan, Ditto. It's an amazing feature of our virtual world and the sharing that happens in our blogs. There are some folks I'd love to meet- you being one of them. If you plan a trip to Italy, we have a guest room waiting.

  17. Over and above the content, which is striking in itself, the lyricism of language and the depth of the images painted are compelling. Fine writing, and a total immersion here for me, as I also am a January child, though my adversaries were other, the winter storm can be a hard one to survive.

  18. Hedgewitch, Maybe so, as I see it now surviving those winter storms allowed me to gain the strength I needed, or that's how I make sense of what at first view seems insensible. But thank you for the feedback on my writing. It means a lot to me after reading your gorgeous poetry.

  19. I really love this tale you've spun--a N.E. girl toughened by the elements and two brothers, and how the last line comes full circle into self-discovery. I too am a New England girl, an only child though also a winter (February) baby, toughened not only by elements, but through the loss of both parents by 16. Gaining 1 brother and 4 sisters in the family that took me in was the start of my self-discovery. Thank you for sharing this, it is nice to feel a kinship in reading your words.

  20. Dear Mary

    It was a wonderful visit to your words... and the birth of a warrior girl child... loved your ending... so beautiful and full of life...

    'I grew to a storm-wintered warrior child
    sight practiced on bare lilac thicket,
    schooled by wind in how the world sounds,
    cries accompanied by jays and blackbirds,'

    thanks for sharing..

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  21. Ginny, Two New Englanders connecting across the miles through words of shared experiences in the blogosphere. Seems amazing to me. I think you had the tougher self-discovery complicated by such an enormous loss. Good for you for surviving and thriving.

    Shashi, And thank you for reading and letting my words touch you. Maybe a lot of us warrior children are putting our energy into writing and connecting with one another. I like the name of your blog, I'll check it out.

  22. "I grew to be a storm-wintered warrior child"--yes, the strongest of all. I love your images. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. ds, Your welcome and thanks for stopping by.


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