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15 The Mother

hexagram-15-mother‘SHE COPES WITH the phase of obedient moments, extending by a short renewable lease
the longevity of everything breakable.’

When she leaves the room for breastfeeding, the committee carries on
voting. In the chamber one problem is the ‘behaviour of honourable
members’. The sergeant-at-arms is conducting a comprehensive review.
Meanwhile, as she deals with papers and committee work, the child is
looked after in the chief whip’s office, where he enjoys the bright décor.

1st – The Mother of the World
The ‘v’ in Eve is the primal curiosity, ushering in night, a blackness in
mouth and heart. Animals turn predatory. Knowledge is curtains: part
them to learn from Easy Street. She brings us drama – a sense of the
irreversible, of lost footing after birth. And there she is to guide our steps.

2nd – The Mother Expecting Labour
Oh that insubordinate third baby! The vindaloo disappoints: bowel and
uterus remain stalled. The midwife tries induction tricks – getting her
to inflate balloons, climb up and down stairs; then membrane-sweeping,
with circular finger strokes inside the cervix. The phone rings: ‘Any joy?’

3rd – The Jubilant Mother
He battles a storm, out on a spar, changing a sail at midnight – youngest
of the crew and most at risk. She drives thirty miles to the coastguard
radio. ‘You’ve got a distinction!’ Embarrassed monosyllables, no mention
of herself, reassure, like a halo of light and strangers’ shouts in the fog.

4th – The Mother’s Rules
Don’t speak if you’ve nothing nice to say. Avoid bad words like ‘stupid’
(though some allow swearing if it’s not at anyone). Don’t play with
cutlery or food. Befriend the friendless. Mistrust popularity. Set a spider’s
loom on a clothes horse: observe who holds their breath.

5th – The Mother-in-law
Life lesions: her operation is tomorrow. The vortex of family feelings
allows no truancy. Every relationship is strained. Somehow you’re
snagging, despite yourself, the net of sympathy. Idly you pick up a
catalogue of silicone breast forms, then drop it on the sofa in shock.

6th – The Prospective Mother
One broker scouts the reservations. She imagines high cheek bones,
tracking skills winning friends at school, the mystique of blockish
language. There’s a minimum age of resale: think how the child might feel
about that delayed gold bridge, the cruise brochure on the doormat.

All six – The Grandmother
Humbug-striped, the woolly hat and double helping of sweaters bring
a light sagacity to the links. A boisterous wind blusters. Grandchildren
squeal, as if in a railway tunnel. But the truth is, she has smothered her
drive. She smiles and does her little stomping mime of exasperation.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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