On Mother’s Day

Val Lucas 1922-2013

In remembrance of my dear mother – and in acknowledgement of the complex work of mothering.

You came back

             she said     her hands

fluttering around her face      abroad   in the air

between us        they are brittle wings unfolding     in that scrubbed

corridor       when she looks up from her wheelchair    suddenly   

ecstatic            weeping                   you   came back

from where?   I come out of the day

flurried    my own worn hands    catching

hers     stroking        I will always

come back    to sit close    to walk quiet streets together

under plane trees       their generous leaves

until I remember     how I first left her   flush

with the hubris of youth     and how she stood on the nature strip

vulnerable      trying not to touch me      or hold me     just asking

me to come home          but I went     anyway   my face

turned    resolutely   in a different direction

it was years    too many     before

I looked back      properly   before I saw her      a good person

living her life     tending hydrangeas   cradling

generations of children      moving

like all of us           through uncertainty and pleasure

toward the always unexpected      dark fields       this slow

drift into clouded water  

  I came back      just

as she unmoored 
      

          
this island        this fragile

territory                              where I have always been

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