light, People, Poetry Friday

Mother Bear

Whimsical furniture set made by my brother Ken.
Whimsical furniture set made by my brother Ken.

Mother Bear

I am the one
who puts oatmeal on the list
so that we will not have a morning
without porridge.

I am the one who cooks it
stirring its volcano bubbles
from gruel to a thick
predictable pudding.

I am the one who dishes it
into bowls — large, medium, small
then calls the family
to the table.

I am the one who shows baby
how to cool it by blowing on his spoon
and the one who gives him a sip of milk
when he wails, “It’s still too hot!”

I am the one who interrupts his crying,
“Let’s go for a walk,”
the one who distracts his hungry whining
with dandelion greens and wild strawberries.

I am the one who says,
“You’re probably right,”
when Papa grumbles, “Surely the porridge
is cool by now.”

I am the one who sees wet footprints
on the front porch
grass tracked
into the house.

I am the one who notices
bowls have been moved
one empty, chairs shuffled
one broken!

I am the one to follow the footprints
up the stairs past two rumpled beds
and see in the third

I am the one scandalized
with Mrs. Locks. What kind of mother
allows her kid
that much freedom?

And I am the one tempted
to tie Baby Bear
down with my apron
when, after Goldie has jumped

out the window
and run away,
he begs, “Can I look for her?
I want to play.”

Ā© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly


Today’s poem is a re-post. I first published it here in 2010 and before that it appeared on Poets Online. It was in response to the July 2007 prompt, to take the story, characters, title, theme (as much as you need) from one of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales and transform it for your own purposes. You can read the prompt along with the published poems here.
Poetry Friday LogoIt is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup – the tastiest blog you’ll ever read!

11 thoughts on “Mother Bear”

  1. Thanks Ellen! I guess I like writing from prompts because the outcome is usually a surprise. Plus prompts take me in directions I would never think to go on my own.


  2. Wonderful, wonderful. So clever! I am slightly partial to bear poems. Ken’s furniture is so cool. Of course instead of branches, I’m thinking the chairs are made with giant pretzel sticks. . .


  3. Wonderful to read Violet. There is more than one new telling of “The Three Bears” and this is so clever. I think it would be delightful to use with students for their own retelling. I love your fresh ending, and your brother’s wonderful, whimsical table and chairs-just right for your poem too!


  4. So glad you reposted this, Violet – what a wonderful poem, and I nodded the whole way through.
    “stirring its volcano bubbles
    from gruel to a thick
    predictable pudding.” – from volcano bubbles to predictable pudding! Brilliant. )And what mothers do each and every day.) :0)


    1. Thanks so much Linda and Robyn! Perhaps one of the reasons this resonates with us women is because we’re moms.

      Linda, I agree about my bro’s furniture. He is an incorrigible collector of old wood bits and forever thinks of creative ways to re-purpose it.


  5. Oh Violet, I love this poem. I have a special weakness when it comes to fractured retellings of tales – be it in prose or in verse. I moderated a similar panel for the Singapore Writers Festival last week as we had a fairytale theme, and one of the speakers noted the importance of finding spaces or gaps in beloved tales and filling it with your own versions and ruminations. You have done just that here, Violet. Lovely!


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