It would have been my mum's birthday today. If you've been reading this blog for more than 2 years - maryb is the only person who springs to mind in that category: she was my first then-unknown visitor - you might have seen this poem before. As I say in the post title, I'm not a poet.
Twenty-second of May, 2001
My mother would have been eighty today.
I only realise this sitting listening to a reading.
The poet, a tiny American professor, is speaking
of her mother’s seventieth birthday.
I don’t recall the words.
Earlier the same day my son calls.
His sister has told him to, he says.
She’s worried because I’m sad.
Tangled threads, twisted together.
Meaning and reason
hidden in a knot.
A time to be born, a time to
make sense, in its own season.
I was nineteen, you were fifty one
when you died. I might have been
one for all I remember of you.
After the bubble burst, and blood flowed thick and red
through the crevasses of your mind,
flooding your memories,
you said to me, ‘You’re not Peter, are you?’
But I didn’t know you
long before you forgot my name.
What was your favourite colour? Or flower?
Did you still dream of could-have-beens or
glimpse happiness from the upstairs windows of buses?
You loved to garden, I remember that,
to nurture, to tend. And to party.
Eighty is worth a party. Tonight
we would have celebrated and I’d have
watched you gathering my children around you,
your eyes full of pride and love.
No suggestion of shame or guilt.
Your store of that was spent on me.
If I choose to tread overgrown paths,
or return to blacked-out rooms
will I find out who you were or why I am?
I don’t know,
But for now I’ll do as the professor says.
‘Do something with it,’ she says, ‘you must.’