I visit you with your favourites

a fresh cream slice and Hyacinths

on a bright Sunday afternoon and you

look up from deal or no deal on the telly

to greet the lively,  pink bloom

I hope it might remind you of the old garden beds

you dug over one long gone June.

Your eyes are milky blue,

sky and cloud, cloud and sky.

Your voice crackles like the film wrap round a cigarette pack.

“Thanks love.” you say lighting up.

I  don’t ask about your pills

or the pile of bills that fill your windowsill.

We are strangers meeting on a station platform

exchanging pleasantries. Starlings form storm clouds

between lines, that ever move, like tides

crumbs scatter like murmuring rain.

“You look well”

“I feel well”

“Bulbs are coming up”

“Are they? Oh good!”

There are places we won’t venture, old lanes we won’t re-tread, old rooms

we won’t clear to view.

Ashes pile among stubbs.

A stray wind scatters their scent among budding blossoms

that spark and crystallize along stark boughs of a young apple tree we dug in dormant


The world has been re-sized to fit

the dimensions of your front room window.

We hang bird feeders,

sow seeds, trim the box hedge flush

and train the honeysuckle along the fence because

you think it’s ugly

and the council wont let you replace it.

Sometimes I see a flicker, a glimmer, a glimpse, deeper,

further out, beyond the swell and surge of dreams lost

to daytime shows

where streets become oceans and words boats,

where I still see that broad shouldered girl

with plaits thick as ropes

swinging from her head.

The girl I’d gazed at in old photos as a child.

The girl who spoke her German lilt through a gap toothed smile.

The remnants of her mother tongue un-spun as threads,

tripping her up, making each word sound sung.

Once war came you’d learn to mute that song

with a silencer in case the neighbours’ thought you spies.

As you tell me about the jenny wrens and wagtails

the taxi-man’s daughter’s wedding

the view from your window suddenly widens,

broadens, ripples from days to decades and further still beyond

any visible horizon.

A person is made of myriad things, memories, thoughts, dreams.

I know that you are each and every one of these

and many people I will never meet besides.

Yet to me you can only ever be one.

My mother.


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17 thoughts on “Mother

  1. This is a beautiful read, filled with love and complex relationship with a beloved mother. I specially love the part:

    There are places we won’t venture, old lanes we won’t re-tread, old rooms

    It is nice to meet you and thank you for sharing this gem of a poem.


  2. There is a theme of lenses through which to view life, those milky white eyes, that window and its collapsing frame…but one can see at the end of this tender piece, is that the lens of a daughter’s love makes everything from aging to age-old memories, beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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