Six Mothers I Had

Issue ElevenIssue Eleven PoetryPoetry

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By Bradlee Jennings


Talaleu was the fearless goddess who wrangled flesh and air,

Willing me into existence.

Healthy yet homeless, I spent twenty-eight days trawling the island,

Mingling with new hosts

Ready for a new path.

With a smile to level mountains, Talaleu ensured my safety,

Wrapped me up and offered me outward,

To find another home

Across many seas.


Jennifer saw my hands reaching

Fingers fumbling, desperate and curious,

Heart open, arms outstretched.

She received the signal I was sending,

The signal others were boosting on my behalf.

She was ready to love,

I was ready for a mother’s embrace

Underneath waterfalls, inside classrooms

Touching minds forever.


Wendy showed me a heart, distant yet so close

Way out west, nearing the border

Her surly progeny would bind wrists with mine

At least for a few years.

When the dust settled on a new decade

We decided to unbind and keep walking,

Not the elusive forever-after we’d heard about

But Wendy did indeed raise a fierce warrior

Who is now raising her own.


Judith helped keep my rudder straight, though flounder it would,

She shared her heart regardless.

With father’s hand in hers, she stood, galvanised

Helped me understand the unknown

That the unknown could be positive.

Living in an apartment they lovingly called the Shoebox,

Until they could afford to purchase the Shoe Shop

Judith kept us grounded 

And welcomed Jennifer as a partner in wine.


Denise gave more love than most only dream of

And from a vessel unfairly wearied

She emerges as queen

Battered from years in the cellular jungle.

Still, she smiles, resolute and brilliant,

With a handle we can all hold onto

As we drift past the break, towards the unknown.

She passed down the same open heart

To help her daughters to navigate a fractured world.


Rose showed me a version of myself that existed in another space and time

Behind security doors, carefully locked and checked

Stockton; A scary satellite of a city.

Bankrupt and broken, it still found love to show me,

Among the peaks and troughs, a brother’s grave

Never met, gunned down, buried modestly

Protector of my four long lost paternal siblings


Rose speaks of Talaleu

Talaleu speaks of Jennifer

Jennifer speaks of Wendy

Wendy speaks of Judith

Judith speaks of Denise

And I am the luckiest man in the world.