The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Giverny, France by Jillian Austen

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Springtime returns, burdened with poetry.
Tulips nod by the water lily-dotted pool
where layer upon joyous layer of color brightens.
Colors will recede, the sunlight will change.

I have been to Giverny.
Paris to Vernon by train, taxi to Monet’s home,
a young woman’s pilgrimage to the misty blue wisterias
planted by the master’s own hand. A young woman,
married scant three years, crossed over the Japanese footbridge.

Always on the look-out for rare varieties, he bought young plants
at great expense. “All my money goes into my garden,” he said.
But also: “I am in raptures.” *

A photo exists, perhaps in my ex-husband’s collection-
me cupping one of Monet’s pink tulips in my hand, bending
like the flower’s long, supple stem to admire the gigantic bloom.

Claude Monet did not like organized nor constrained gardens.
He married flowers according to their colors and left them
to grow rather freely. *

It’s the photo shoved into a box at moving time, casualty of divorce,
that ends up with strangers. It’s the photo, never labeled, destined
to inhabit an antique shop bin marked “vintage photos”, colors faded.



Jill Austen lives a multidisciplinary life as a poet, musician, visual artist, educator and scholar. In 2012 she created Austen Academy, which offers integrated-arts workshops exploring individuality and the creative process through music, art and poetry. Her poetry has been published in Leaf Garden Press, the Blue Door Quarterly, and the PN&E Anthology. Jill has been a featured poet at OPEN Expressions in Harlem, the Ipswich Roadpoets Café, in Ipswich, MA and a guest of the Poets Network & Exchange, and Blue Door Gallery’s Artspeak. Among other pursuits, Jill plays piccolo with the Brooklyn Wind Symphony and is a juried associate member of the Pastel Society of America. She is interested in the connection between the mundane and the metaphysical, in the small moments that illuminate life’s larger truths.


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