Mother and Child, Body and Soul

By Jean Valentine b. 1934 Jean Valentine
Child
You've boarded me over like a window or a well.

Mother
It was autumn
I couldn't hear the students
only the music coming in the window,   
Se tu m’ami
If you love me

I went for a week's journey in soft ermine.   
Darling, the ovals of your hair ...
autumn leaves,
your hair the hue of rain-drenched bark, your voice:

Don't ever leave me ...

And this child, this
window in my side,
boarded over all my life,
—how can I take the boards off, in this wind?   
I will break if I bend ...

Jean Valentine, “Mother and Child, Body and Soul” from Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003. Copyright © 2004 by Jean Valentine. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 (Wesleyan University Press, 2004)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Jean Valentine b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Parenthood, Living

 Jean  Valentine

Biography

A longtime resident of New York City, Jean Valentine was named the State Poet of New York in 2008. Her first book of poems, Dream Barker and Other Poems, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1965. Subsequent collections of poems include The River at Wolf (1992), Little Boat (2007), and Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, which won the National Book Award in 2004.

Her lyric poems delve into dream . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Parenthood, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.