365 Poems/82 Mother (Rough first draft)


You were there when, as a baby my ears burned,

and my new, little body convulsed routinely,

like it never wanted to be still.


You were there when wind rattled

through my ribs. When I treated life

like it owed me a favour, as if mortality

couldn’t touch me.


You were there when I was attached

to a heart monitor, in a hospital twenty-five

miles from home. You’d always get in

as close as possible, to say I love you.


Now I know when you used to leave me,

you’d sit in the car in the car park and cry.

You knew it wasn’t all hate. It was the illness

telling me ten raisins was so much worse than eight.


Today, you help people who aren’t clear

on living without touching something

that turns them rotten, something that fills them

quickly and leaves them empty.


You freely give them smiles

when they haven’t seen one in days.

You provide conversation

that doesn’t take place at night,

over back walls, tight

with broken glass bottles.


You help them cook in a kitchen,

free from damp shirts and jeans, hung

over the backs of chairs. A kitchen where all

that gets cooked is bacon with the rind on.


You change the essential oils you use

as the clients adapt and grow. Panic attacks

need lavender, frankincense, marjoram.

To increase good self-esteem all-round,

you paint the walls of your therapy room yellow,

the colour closest to the light of the sun.