General Poetry posted April 17, 2019

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Coward or Angel?

Mother's White Feather

by LisaMay

Mother's Day Poetry Contest Contest Winner 

            Whistling through the bars
            a breezy song of freedom,
            she escapes her self-penned
            cage of cares – winging it.

            She sweeps out the door,
            surrendering her role
            to star in another drama
            staged anywhere but here.

            The note on the table:
            paper wings rustle goodbye.
            Deserting her post
            she was shot of us at dawn.

            Clutched in a tiny fist,
            a memory of her flight –
            my keepsake white feather
            from Mother’s trailing boa.

            Before Daddy comes home,
            I find claws in my heart,
            crumbs in my pocket,
            and birdsong in my head.

Mother's Day Poetry Contest
Contest Winner



Author's Note:

Unfortunately, not all experiences of motherhood are warm fuzzies, for either the mother or the children. This poem is derived from a true situation. I have written it through the eyes of one of my half-sisters. I was the fourth daughter born to our Mother, who was not coping with marriage and motherhood. As the product of an affair, I was adopted out so was not there when Mother decided to leave home, as portrayed in this poem. She left three daughters, all under five years old, alone in the house, until their father came home to find his wife had deserted him and abandoned the children. I had a lucky escape, raised in a loving home. In a strange coincidence, one of my half-sisters has the same name as me, is left-handed and is an artist, as I am. I was named by my adoptive parents. I have pretended to be my namesake half-sister in this poem.

Mother seemed to be the sort of selfish, theatrical woman who changed the script if something was not to her liking. It is easy to feel judgemental when one is abandoned, but perhaps she was suffering from post-natal depression, or left because she feared she might harm the children. She may have thought she was doing the right thing by us, in removing herself from our lives. My appreciation of her is that she gave me life.


1). The white feather was sometimes given as a mark of cowardice, but is also a sign that an Angel is present.

2). To wing it is an idiom that means to improvise, to do something without proper preparation or time to rehearse. People often talk about "winging it" when they have to do something difficult that they didn't have time to prepare for.

3). "she was shot of us at dawn": to be shot of something means to get rid of something or someone; to replace, throw away, shed. Also as a reference in times of battle when a deserter could be executed - shot at dawn for cowardice.

4). A feather boa is a fashion accessory, wrapped around the neck like a scarf and usually worn to evening parties or as fancy dress.
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