Blood Mother

Blood Mother



About the book

  • CAA Poetry Award finalist
  • Stephan G. Stephansson Poetry Prize finalist
In Blood Mother, Su Croll skilfully opens up that close domestic space where a woman is watching herself learn to be a mother. Sidestepping our language’s many clichés about motherhood, Croll expresses the decidedly un-pretty yet stubbornly beautiful truth about women becoming mothers, revealing the underside of this often insular, invisible and glossed-over world.

About the author

Croll, Su

Su Croll's first book of poetry, Worlda Mirth, won the 1992 Kalamalka New Writers Competition and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.

She has studied English and visual art at the University of Ottawa and writing and film at Concordia University in Montreal. Widely published in Canadian literary magazines and anthologies and the recipient of numerous awards for her fiction and poetry, Croll teaches English as a Second Language and lives in Edmonton with her husband and children. She is currently working on a novel.



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


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

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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