A Shadow in the Grass

  • Andrew Motion


Among other things, I cover the different sorts of challenge (and opportunity) that I have previously experienced in writing about my mother in poems and in a prose memoir. My mother inside the bubble was still delicate. Very delicate, in fact: for the last three summers, exactly as Kit and I left school to begin our long holidays, she was diagnosed with glandular fever, and took to her bed. It meant that we spent a large part of every day sitting quietly in her bedroom, while the yellow of her illness bloomed and faded. Then, when she got better for the third time, it was my turn to be delicate. I developed arthritis, which kept me in plaster for a while, put me in hospital for two operations, and finally kept me home for a long stretch when I should have been at school. It was painful and tedious in all sorts of ways, but it was wonderful as well. For months on end I had my mother to myself, and time to myself. I listened to music. I read and read and read. I began writing poems. At the time I never considered there might be a psychological dimension to any this: I was too ignorant/innocent to imagine such a thing, and no doubt too self-absorbed as well. But with hindsight it seems perfectly clear what was happening. I had to be ill to break with my inheritance in general and my father in particular. And my mother had to be ill to get more attention than any of us gave her when she was well.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Motion
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

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