What Is the Poem "The Mother" by Gwendolyn Brooks About?

Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "The Mother" centers around the topic of abortion, which was a much more controversial subject back when the poem was written. The notion of abortion is challenging for many people to accept, and so Brooks' approach is to look at the situation from the point of view of the mother, with attention to her perspective on the grief, love and confusion that are all part of the experience.

The first stanza creates a bit of distance with the reader by beginning in second person, and the speaker is explaining how she feels about the abortion. The narrator shows that she has multiple memories of abortion from the outset when she says "Abortions will not let you forget," using the word "children" later on to show that this has happened to her more than once.

The emotional impact of the poem comes from the fact that losing a loved one often brings significant change to an individual or family. In the case of an abortion, the grief is different because the mother never gets to know her baby as a living person but has already bonded emotionally by carrying the baby. Grief and love combine to create a lasting pain that never quite goes away. The poem captures this heartbreak.