Some time ago, I wrote a poem A Mother’s Plea that voiced an expectant mother’s concern over bringing a child into a world that is not so life-friendly. The poem is now part of my poetry book Islands of Illusion (World Audience Inc., New York, 2007) and is being considered for nomination for the coming Pushcart Prize. My case for the anti-birth position of the mother rests on humanistic concern. In a world full of crime and pestilent forces, a caring mother needs to think twice before bringing another human life to the scene.
The point of course is very much open to debate and may have been debated before in literature (I don’t know much of that). But in the contemporary writing world, I am glad to see that I am not the sole supporter of letting a child inhabit his/her mother’s womb instead of stepping out to join the messy status quo. I am referring to Clint Burnham’s short story Hamlet, part of the anthology of Canadian short fiction And Other Stories (Talon Books, Vancouver, 2001). Burnham’s story portrays a character that is acting along similar lines as my poem’s mother. His protagonist is a grown up guy who is evicted from his apartment and there seems to be no place better than his mother’s womb where he can settle down.
The mother of Burnham’s hero is as understanding as my poems; readily welcoming her son to abandon the world and live inside her. We hear from the lucky guy having a nice, cozy place to lie in the abode whence every man comes. His gentle satire here accompanies Burnham’s exceptional out-of-the-box thinking on the general living conditions of our time. This queasiness is not only religious, moral, and political but also social and environmental.
Perhaps, the anti-birth and pro-retreat mania in writing may be called a cowardly negation of reality and an irrational expression of escapism. However, as far as the question of possibilities is concerned, I think retreating to some safe place is a legitimate suggestion. And for the sake of writing, a mother’s womb is the best place any peace-loving person can think of. In effect, it is a call for writers and non-writers alike to make our living conditions as naturally genial as a mother’s womb. Burnham’s hero is still there and my poem’s child is yet unborn. We don’t think they’ll come out until we can promise them something better. Let it be life in our world!
Listen to a poem from Islands of Illusion
And Other Stories available
About Clint Burnham