The following poems were written whilst I was studying for my BA and at a point when I became somewhat obsessed with the relationship between mother and daughters and the impact they have in shaping us into women.
I’m scared of growing old, she told me, standing statue-like
in front of her Mother’s worn mirror. Her head cocked
and her eyes fixed to the lines
around her bubble-gum pink lips. I thought she was old,
but it was only a number to me. Life begins
at forty, Dad told her and winked. About time too,
she answered and I remember seeing
for the first time dark circles cupping her bloodshot eyes.
It just flies by. She sighed and I imagined the Heron swooping
over our house and taking with it, not the Karp and Goldfish
from the garden pond, but picnics and birthday parties.
I thought of how it felt like forty years waiting
for the school bell to ring each day. Never
thinking I would see those same eyes
looking back at me from a different mirror.
My Mother’s Shoes
Scarlett, like the lady your Mother
warned you, you would become.
Clickety steel heels, you dreamt
of foxtrotting down the cobbled streets in.
Ankle-bands with dainty ribbon bows
you imagined roping your bare skin.
Scraps of wages you saved and hid under velvet
in the rosewood jewellery box your Nan gave you.
You stroked the steamy glass of the shoe-shop
window. Promised you’d be back
before the smog settled, before you would no longer
see your reflection in their pointed patent toes.
She never went to school like the other kids,
instead she stayed home
and heated-up bottles for the twins. Carried
bin-bags out to the backy, watching
the other girls make out with boys;
touching tongues and flushed cheeks. Giggling
in Eleven O Clock Mass on a Sunday. In the name
of the good Lord, Father Marr would bless you. Exchange
confessions for ten Hail Mary’s
because them boys are only after one thing
her Mother told her, no-one would want her.
Father Feck left before she learnt how to crawl. Sold
the Echo in Town and never came home.
On scuffed palms and bruised knees she scrubbed
the floorboards clean. Dragged buckets down concrete steps, day-dreaming
about a husband and the patter of tiny toes.
At the age of forty-one I became pregnant and gave birth to my first child, Dylan. I didn’t write many poems at the time, but below are the ones that I did write before and shortly after the birth.
I search through books, pamphlets and cyberspace to discover you.
Find endless diagrams and detailed images.
The size of a chick pea, stumped limbs and tail
silently growing, absorbing iron and vitamin C, D and E.
On an ultrasound screen I see you ─ the curve
of your delicate spine nesting in my womb.
Today, for the first time, I feel you, feel you fluttering
your tiny fingers and toes inside me.
Your eyelids are dipped
over an empty page.
Cleft to lip, like a raindrop
reaching the tide of your breathe
and falling: a silent tick-tock
resting, your splayed fingers
under a sun-cast shadow.
Unfurling tiny toes, stretching
The first time your Dad took you out
without me, the house was silent.
A hush of new leaves fluttered
on the rhododendron branches outside
and seeped in through the open window.
The pully pattered against the blinds.
The bedroom radiator clinked
and I caught the imprint of your chuckle
and thought, before you,
there was a silence that I’d never heard.