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Poetry Canadian

Blood Mother

by (author) Su Croll

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Initial publish date
Sep 2008
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2008
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In her passionate second collection of poetry, Blood Mother, Su Croll casts fresh light on the timeless maternal life of women. Collating singular moments in the unfolding narrative of birth, she draws us into the emotional interior and shifting identity that comes with new motherhood, from the simple desire for children to the chaos and pain of labour, from the meditation on a child's first breath to the long-wanted birth of a second child. Always mindful of the relationships between mothers and tackling the feminist challenge of representation, Croll asks how mothers are meant to see themselves when the language itself seems insufficient. Set against Alberta's urban and natural spaces, Blood Mother answers with remarkable originality in poems that never background the frustrations of motherhood while celebrating the rapturous pleasures that many women are summoned to in giving birth to their children and our families.

About the author

Su Croll's work has garnered numerous awards and nominations, including the Kalamalka New Writers Competition, Gerald Lampert Award, Stephan G. Stephansson Award as well as the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award. Cold Metal Stairs is her third work of poetry. She lives and writes in Edmonton.

Su Croll's profile page

Excerpt: Blood Mother (by (author) Su Croll)


we are fallen into words flimsy female language a dialect of oranges and asters we say flowery because of the light insubstantial purple swollen plums of language that are read as purple prose and to be newly in leaf and blossom to be fresh picked a budding rose is to be light womanly there is no non-gendered language though even the presence of the word gender and its other hidden face already weigh down this leafy construction I am left wordless unable to explain my fertile ovulating conceiving gestating labouring delivering lactating body I should stop trying for more formidable words more heavy-weight dialogue because the language of vegetation of fruit and flowers of ocean and moon is the shape women have taken in language our blood clichéd and rooting us to nature the only way we can be described


lungs forced open

as if accuracy were an end in itself I don't know how to live

I don't know clocks and I don't know leaves yellow in the wide

flat palm of prairie to foot hills I am living in I don't know

what part of the country from colours practically unfamiliar what time

of day what season I barely know my husband at this altitude

in this west how he lives and moves through the high

and dry of this air he walks across a river to a downtown

job I can’t imagine I don't know how to live there's breathing

and eating and looking at yellow trees before wind takes

their leaves I don't know how the television can

stand itself brewing pictures frenzied crowds forcing open

locked doors I don't know how the barricades

can endure I only know my stubborn stretched skin

barricading the body and life forcing itself on a flesh

coloured wind of shrill oxygen into my daughter's open

mouth the moment she was pulled blue from my slit

open abdomen that slim red

scalpel line marking me in that second before life begins

with breathing I don't know anything

but the body the body of this western city the country

of my own body residence of my daughter my heart


blood mother

in art god sucks life from the breast of the virgin a hard breast held like a lean pear in his hands this picture is christened madonna of humility as if in giving life she is drained of power yet god grows fat on the milk that is mirrored in the painted air above her as stars of the milky way decorate ceilings in church her name is humility as if the milk is not everything this wash of milk from the human mother as if it is not gifted from the body of a woman grafted to the god of the word as if this is not miracle enough these red and gold images stain the wood of the icon etching the holy made flesh the christ the child is grateful at the breast of the queen of heaven god is overwhelmed with the sweet goodness of she who takes away the hurt of his hunger his huge eternal blood mother shrugging away the painted halo as she draws her child to herself and allows him to put away the pain of the world

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