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.