My mother and the cat

Jeltje Fanoy

Cheer-squad tv news/
is telling us 
that/real men/ 
have accomplished
have accomplished
My mother tries/to 
cook/the cat 
chews on the carpet
my mother gets/ 
angry/at the cat/gets
under her feet
when she tries to 
chews/on the carpet
I pick up the cat/he
wants to/bite me 
there there/in front 
of the heater/not/
under our feet when 
we try to/cook
Cheer-squad news/
accidents, wars
my mother tries/to cook
I/pick up the cat/put him
near the heater
there’s a good cat/there there
the cat tries to/bite me
Cheer-squad news/
from telling us
have accomplished
my mother tries/to cook
I/pick up the cat
from/chewing the carpet
Cheer-squad news/from 
under our feet the cat 
has gone/to sleep
we/have accomplished
what/we have accomplished
Cheer-squad news/is 
telling us my mother/
has cooked what/she 
has tried to cook
the cat has gone/to sleep
there there’s a good cat
from/under our feet
from/chewing the carpet
there there’s a good/
tv news in front 
of/the heater
my mother/has 
cooked what/
she’s tried to cook
the cat/has gone/to sleep.  

‘Frisian Waltz’ (first published as ‘Mother’s creative tempat’) and ‘My mother and the cat’ were included in my latest collection My mother and the cat (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). ‘My mother and the cat’ is a sound poem and has been a performance favourite for many years… poetry about my mother who tried so astonishingly hard to be a caring mother, in spite of everything. My mother was a bit of an enigma, even to her own children. When I was a teenager, my mother confided in me that she thought she was suffering from Autism. She asked me whether I was able to “think clearly” and was adamant that, throughout her life, she herself had to “learn everything off by heart”.  ‘in overdrive,’ (from the chapbook: ‘oh yes, and the emergency button’, ftloose productions, 2019) is an expression of intergenerational trauma experienced by me, from my parents. 

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