Mother and Child


Mother at the cradle and child sitting on the floor

Secure and warm tranquility a bolt across the door

Cradle lies an empty nest

Baby's at the nursing breast

Mother's hands enforced at rest

Child's hands are working best

Thread and needle skills at test

Mother's eyes are staring

What is my child wearing

Why am I always sharing

Time and strength and caring

How ever many more

Will come to crowd me out the door?


Child's face in concentration

Works her thread concatenation

Kettle in the corner waits for tea

Mother's face is lost in mystery

No one else equipped to feed

My baby's simple primal need

But why dear god, always must it be me

How ever many more embraced 

Like him will take his empty place

When he has taken his upon the floor?


Child's mouth is drawing inward

Gesture of a spirit that's unsure

Mother's jaw is set and rigid

Spirit's hurt and soul lies frigid

Swearing and despairing at the times

Spectator of her own life's pantomime

How ever many more

Will come and crowd around the open floor

Will come upon me from within - 

My fear lies not without the bolted door.


Child's petite shoulders firmed and fixed are set

The future lies within her struggling hand

Silently her mind she strengthens, 

As her shadow fills and lengthens

Brave and tall and proud she soon will stand.

Mother's body sags: the conjured image lags

Collapsing all the dreams and secret wants

Her worn and tired visage haunts

The child's promised future

Whose present is her own forgotten past.


The baby cries and breaks the spell at last.


About this: This was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Mother at the Cradle and Child Sitting on the Floor

 © Philip Knight 2018