Mothers and Daughters, daughters and mothers…belatedly, I celebrate the feral mix, a few days late, but no less sincerely (my second Covid shot eclipsed my intentions to post this on Mother’s Day). I lost my own mother in 2018 and I’m so pleased to honor her with the news that one of the poems from my poetry collection (in circulation and looking for a home) about her was taken: “Berkeley Postcard,” forthcoming at Juked this year.
In the meantime, here’s a poem I wrote about the Strength card (next Tarot as Inner Teacher course, Strength to Justice, starts tomorrow at 1 pm PST) followed by some journaling questions for you to consider in relation to the Strength card.
Arguing with a Daughter: Tarot’s Arcanum VIII, Strength
Undone, I’m in the gown
of the girl holding jaw of the lion,
his breath at my crotch. Belt cinches
waist, extends round his neck,
invisible Mobius, rope’s parallel omen
for lemniscate of the Magus, Arcanum I.
Or perhaps my daughter wears gown
and I wear mane. I know no lion
nor girl that mimic this pair,
benign, garland-crowned, sated,
though once when I was ten
I wrestled my mother’s will and won.
I stood on a chair with hammer
to curtain in the outdoor cat
that snuck in to birth her litter
in attic sewing room, where earlier
I’d tried on mother’s wedding dress
in secret, my body—near breastless–
larger than hers at nineteen, when
pregnant with me, she let my father
marry her. When zipper
caught at rib’s base, I didn’t force
it, nor does she now insist I chase
feline out. Once again I’m larger
than her and alone in the room.
Four sheer black sacs shimmer
loose as cat spins, mews, tears
kittens free: First paws, then V’s
of ears, frail grey milkweed pods
of their eyes seamed shut
despite heat of her tongue.
The landscape of the poem above starts in the terrain of arguing with my own daughter some years ago when she was a teenager and being stunned by the mutual ferocity, in awe of the power of the pushback, trying to relate this expression to that seemingly calm face of the girl holding open the jaws of the lion in the Rider Waite Smith Strength card. Of course, in the heat of the moment, I’d prefer to be the Magus, Arcanum I, the Magician, and find the words to soothe both of us (self and daughter alike).
I dug deeper and travelled to the roots of my own stubbornness, shifting to the landscape of a cold Illinois farmhouse, arguing with my own mother, when I was desperate to keep the outdoor cat in the house. I saw the mother-daughter lineage, my part, and in that reaching I could see—even revel in—the feral stubbornness, that energy mirrored in the seamed eyelids of the newborn kittens, eyes shut against the heat of mother-tongue until ready to open and see. No mother can will her daughter to see until she is ready to see. And the reverse is true too.
Here are a few tarot journaling questions for the Strength card:
- What role does arguing play in the forging of your identity and how does it lead to developing strength?
- Did you argue with your mother and what did you learn about yourself? About her?
- Do you argue with your daughter? What do you learn about yourself? About her?
- How do you define strength?
Join me for the latest course in my Tarot as Inner Teacher Series offered through Antioch University’s Continuing Education Program. We use tarot journaling to explore our connections to the opportunities and challenges presented by each card. Beyond the deeply satisfying gift of mapping a powerful conversation with the self, tarot journaling lays the groundwork for other writing projects, seeding poems, short stories, plays, essays and other improvisations. For this course, we focus on the Strength, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, and Justice cards. All of these cards have to do with the ways we gather, focus, or concentrate our energies.
For full course description and to sign up visit: Tarot as Inner Teacher, Strength to Justice.
Related link of interest:
Presentation for the San Diego Memoir Writers Association on YouTube:
Tarot for Memoir: Using Tarot to Access Life Events and Create a Tarot Timeline