Mary, Mary…poem by Mary Kendall (SAME NAME Poetry and Prose Series)

A new poem just up at Silver Birch Press. Click at the bottom to get to the original on the SBP site.

Silver Birch Press

kate maberlyMary, Mary…
by Mary Kendall

Shut away.

Your attributes, little Mary.
A long list.
No one liked you.
Except for me.

Not true. There were others.
Your sweet Indian Ayah, who fed you,
washed you, dressed you, taught you,
tolerated your contrary ways, angry words,
miserable frown. She held you close,
rocked you after nightmares and dark dreams,
fanned you in the hot Indian summers.
She sang to you—mellifluous, soothing songs.

Your mother denied your existence, hid you away from view,
just as later, you’d find your cousin Colin, hidden away, too.

What damage it did.
What pain it caused.
Like a plant held too long in a small pot,
its roots pot-bound and crippled,
Colin, unwanted and denied like you.


My family separated when I was just five,
I felt…

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10 thoughts on “Mary, Mary…poem by Mary Kendall (SAME NAME Poetry and Prose Series)

    • Suzanne, indeed they must have. I do recall years back reading an article on racism in children’s books from long ago, and one of the things cited was Mary’s (and the family’s) treatment of the native Indian servants. It reminds me much of how African-American servants (and slaves before them) were treated. The women that acted as nannies, for instance, were similar to the ajahs. The image is always of a very loving ajah or nanny who nurtures the child as if it were her own. Especially important in this book since Mary is so incredible sour and unlikeable as a child. I think the author was trying for the effect of pure goodness and kindness that ultimately help shape a person. In Mary’s case, it’s the ajah, Martha, the young maid at Misselthwaite Manor, and Martha’s mother who kindly gifts her with a jumprope and later writes to Mr. Craven to come see what has happened in the garden he left behind. Touching, yes. Class and race negative, yes. But it’s always good to put books in perspective, I think. They give us a clearer picture of what life was really like for a certain class and culture. I’m glad your husband has a good caregiver…they are gifts indeed. Best wishes to you all, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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