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By Carol Lynn Pearson

Surely you must have noticed in
   Disney movies, along with the catchy songs
      all the dead mothers.

Mother of Ariel the Little Mermaid—killed by pirates
Mother of Bambi—shot by hunter
Mother of Belle in Beauty and the Beast—died from plague
Mother of Nemo—eaten by barracuda
Mother of Tarzan—killed by leopard
Mother of Quasimodo—killed protecting her son
Mother of Cinderella—dead
Mother of Pocahontas—dead
Mother of Snow White—dead

Suspicious, don’t you think—such a
   stunningly high rate of maternal morbidity
      in one subdivision?

It cries out for an investigation
   which is why I did one
      and here are my findings.

We are the guilty party, you and I
   and our ancestors way back before a camera
      was even a flash in someone’s dream.

The storyteller of the tribe is a medicine man
   to our psyches and knows our substrata terrors
      and our needs and draws them into words

and sometimes, if we are lucky, brings remedies
   as in this case, the Case of the Missing Mother
      and the Miserable Patriarchal Family.

Here we are in the dark, popcorn in hand, gathered
   before the large and flickering fire we call a screen
      ready for a brilliant show and tell.

Actually two stories to tell today, the better to demonstrate
   my dear, this pandemic malady of ours, on a split-screen
      which you can do because this is the movies
         and which I can do because this is a poem.
Shhhhh. Act One: The Motherless House.

Screen One: Captain Von Trapp, military man of Austria
   keeps order with whistle (mother dead, seven children
      good little soldiers, sad, sad, sad).

Screen Two: Mister Banks, agent of Fidelity Fiduciary
   lord of his castle (mother absent, marching for votes for women,
      two children, Jane and Michael, sad, sad, sad).

What can help but heaven? And heaven opens!

Down from the hills comes the aproned woman of song
   with the holy name of Maria, sent by God
      and the Mother Abbess to set the family right.

And simultaneously—

Down from the London sky by umbrella comes the woman
   of magic with the holy name of Mary, sent by God
      and the east wind to set the family right.

 (I know! For a minute there I was believing that
   Julie Andrews was actually our Heavenly Mother!
      But no, just one of her beautiful daughters
         who got two fabulous roles.)

Act Two: The Woman Turns Things Upside Down.

The Von Trapp children climb trees, verily the Tree of Life
   and warmth and music return to the home
      and a smile to the lips of the Captain.

How do you solve a problem like the Goddess?
   You marry her in a grand cathedral blessed by nuns
      and bring healing to the family mortal and divine

and she fortifies the Captain in his courage to
   say no to the fatherland, no to the motherless house
      of the ultra-patriarchal brownshirt Nazis.

And simultaneously—

Poppins unleashes her magic, a lullaby
   a spoonful of sugar and a trip to make-believe
      where we levitate and love to laugh

and step in time with chimney sweeps and see
   that Mary is indeed practically perfect
      every day and in every way

and we want to feed the birds with our tuppence
   rather than invest in Incorporations! Amalgamations!
      of the highly patriarchal Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.

Act Three: The Healed Family Rises

And now in this dark theater we celebrate
   as we see our way, feel our way with
      the family Von Trapp as we stumble and rise
         climbing, climbing the high green mountain

—up, up, closer, ever closer to heaven.

And look—the Banks family flying the kite repaired
   by father’s own hands and trailing mother’s
      “Votes for Women” banner, useless now
         except as a tail to stabilize the kite as it rises

—up, up, into the blue and white sky.

And our communal psyche, stirred by the storyteller
   of the tribe, whispers to the full theater, Yes, yes,
      something holy just happened here.

Wholeness and holiness happened here.



Carol Lynn Pearson is a poet, playwright and performer who received her MA in Theatre from BYU in 1962. While there she won “Best Actress” of the year for her portrayal of Joan of Arc in Anouilh’s “The Lark.” Her first book, a short compilation of poetry, “Beginnings,” put her on the LDS map in 1967. Another book, published in 1984 had large, “Goodbye, I Love You,” telling the story of her life with her gay husband. She is well-known in the church for her devotion to the advancement of the status of women and also the acceptance of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. She lives in Walnut Creek, California and is active in her ward there.