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The Bad Mother

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The bad mother wakes from dreams
of imperfection trying to be perfection.
All night she’s engineered a train
too heavy with supplies
to the interior. She fails.
The child she loves
has taken on bad habits, cigarettes
maybe even drugs. She
recognizes lies. You don’t
fool me, she wants to say,
the bad mother, ready to play
and win.
This lamb who’s gone –
this infant she is
pinioned to – does not listen,
she drives with all her magic down a
different route to darkness where
all life begins.

“The Bad Mother” from Bending Home: Selected Poems 1967-1998 by Susan Griffin. Published in 1998 by Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org
Source: Bending Home: Selected Poems 1967-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998)
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The Bad Mother

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  • Poet, essayist, and playwright Susan Griffin was born in 1943 in Los Angeles, California. An early awareness of the horrors of World War II and her childhood in the High Sierras have had an enduring influence on her work, which includes poetry, prose, and mixed genre collections. A playwright and radical feminist philosopher, Griffin has also published two books in a proposed trilogy of “social autobiography.” Her work considers ecology, politics, and feminism, and is known for its innovative, hybrid form. Her collections in this vein include Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (1978); A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War (1982), which was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Award, won a BABRA Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book; The Eros of Everyday Life: Essays on Ecology, Gender, and Society (1995); What Her Body Thought: A Journey...

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