A Traditional Cure

by Richard Westcott

To hold her down, that mother’s tongue,
you need an iron plate
to stop her scolding – a man-made tongue
rigid and silent in its strength.

Language can be tamed and tongues
be taught. All she can do is
dribble now, around that held-firm tongue
and utter baby sounds – no scolding words.

Her head is held in an iron frame
locked tight – we hold the key
to the cage we made, which holds
that tongue of hers, to teach it
to be soft again, no longer sharp.

And to crown it all, a little bell
to tell the world what she has done.

So behold a speechless scold
who can only nod her head
and shake her little clapper.