My mother was a staunch member of the Women's Institute in the village where she lived the last thirty-five years of her life. This poem is about an incident that took place at about the same time as the Watergate scandal in the United States.
She flicks the switch, the room is bugged.
She smiles to think the girls she’s hugged
will have a chance now to reveal
opinions that they would conceal.
She wonders (and she hopes and fears)
what secrets await her curious ears –
when she goes out to make the tea
she knows that gossip will flow free.
With their hostess in the kitchen,
the ladies turn to open bitching,
tear apart her sense of style,
her ever-patronising smile,
her way of knowing everything,
her hair-style and her parenting,
the way she thinks she’s really cute,
God’s gift to the Women’s Institute.
When she is once more in the room
the meeting’s decorously resumed.
When they have left, with thanks and smiles,
and she rewinds the tape, she finds her guile’s
rebounded badly. As she listens
I see an angry teardropp glisten.
I ask her, “Mum, will you resign,
and let them hear the reason why? ”
“Oh no, ” she says, “I’ll beat those witches
now I know they’re perfect bitches.
I know that none of them could be
a perfect secretary like me –
they’ll never know they made me cry,
those harpies of the W.I.! ”
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem