Mother, the life you value’s
A skeleton hung with bunting.
A saxophone brash
Blares out Duty! Duty! Duty!
Stuck on its one high note.
Mother, your world is trash!

Why can’t you let me be?
Dreams are mushrooming
Down in my charcoal chamber,
Under my muffled skies.
Mother, I like my colourful life,
Away from your icicle eyes.
With my dark lord
Down in the moist, dank
Alchemy of Earth,
I am becoming whole.
At last I am forming my soul.

Your thoughts are thistles
Rending the tender tissue
Of dream-time’s thin cocoon.
They are spawning serpents
Of course-
I’ll stab them, like a stuck Laocoon.

The life you’d fashion for me is
A fetter, a shackle, a sham.
A glided Wiccaman;
Cage of rage, of pain
I am going to break with tradition, Mother,
I am going to snap your chain.
– Sheena Blackhall (1947-
[ from Modern Scottish Women Poets- Edited and Introduced by Dorothy McMillan and Michel Byrne]


Sheena Blackhall is an illustrator, singer, poet and short-stury writer who has published fifteen volumes of poems and seven short-story collections.

[Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and the queen of the underworld. She was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld, infuriating her mother who made the crops wither and the earth barren. Zeus intervened and tried to bring Persephone back to the world of the living; however, Persephone ate the seeds of a pomegranate that Hades had given to her, binding her to him for one third of the year. Thus, it was decided that Persephone spend four months in the underworld and eight months on earth with her mother. The period in the underworld corresponded to the winter season, during which Demeter would make the soils barren due to her grief, while her return marked the start of the spring.]