hard to define

sky watcher
star gazer
deep dark eyes
burn your soul like a laser

honorary auntie
best girlfriend
haunting words
nightly penned

(& when people stare
you can tell she doesn’t care)

sister, lover
working girl
promises
yet to unfurl

gardener
flower-cutter
dancin’ in the rain
nutter

(& when people stare
you can tell she doesn’t care)

entertained
entranced by skin
unsure what is –
& what ain’t – a sin

alone
with music in her head
she prays for all
the beloved dead

(& when people cry
you know she knows she’s gonna die)

copyright © 2017 KPM

96 days

When someone you love dies – especially when your mother dies – you lose yourself. And time stops. And if you’re an immigrant, when you’re the child – who for whatever reason left their family, their homeland, their siblings & friends – the moment of your mother’s death stops at the last moment you saw her, when you she hugged you until your arms went numb, the last time she covered you with her favourite blanket, the last sandwich she made for you, the last time she kissed your cheek after telling you how much she loved you.

When someone you love dies – especially when it’s your mom – you are faced with “firsts”. The first time she has a birthday: my mom passed away three weeks before her 82nd birthday, and the birthday card I bought for her remains on the desk in my home office…if I bin it, it will be admitting something I am still struggling to deal with. Somehow, I managed to get thorough the first birthday of my Mom following her death. I made it through Mother’s Day, too.

A summer baby, I was facing a particularly painful “first”: my first birthday without my mother. And as I live abroad, it means Mommy sent my card and present through the mail. Aware that this birthday would be hard for me, all my birthday cards and presents from my family and friends arrived early this year except for the card from my brother, which arrived on the day. And with each clang of the mail slot, my heart leapt, thinking, “That’ll be from Mommy” before my brain caught up. So in the run-up to my birthday, I was wired – which understandably had my BF and many of my friends worried.

But something amazing happened that day. The morning of my birthday I woke up and I felt light – like a happy balloon floating across the sky. That morning, I awakened to sunshine. All the rooms in my wee flat were awash in sunshine. And I thought, “Mommy.” I knew that was Mommy, giving me a sunny day for my birthday. So I hurriedly showered and dressed and went out into my garden.

And I could feel her. My sisters had told me they’d felt Mommy’s presence since her passing, but I had not; I only saw her in my dreams, so I had been fervently praying to God to let me feel her, too. On my birthday, standing in my garden, I felt her all around me – in the sun on my face, the wind on my bare arms and legs, the flowers gave off my mother’s scent. I felt her inside of me, in my chest and my stomach and my heart, and for the first time since her death, I felt calm. Peaceful. Even happy.

This year my birthday was on a Friday – Saturday and Sunday were hot and sunny days as well. My Mom – perhaps working through or with God – seeing that her child was unhappy, gave me the gift of a beautiful weekend for my birthday. Sunshine as warm as her arms around me.

And it was a good birthday. I sang and danced and pigged out on the special meal my BF had made for me. I remembered my mother without tears, reminded that as her firstborn, the day she had me was one of the proudest moments of her life. I realised that Mommy’s love will never leave me – it and she will always be with me.

That feeling has remained with me, even as I ache for my brother and sisters, who are facing a “first” without me: the first family 4th of July barbecue and attendant celebrations without Mommy present. The 4th is the biggest of the summer celebrations in the US. I can feel their pain, because – even though I live in Scotland – I still celebrate the 4th with my partner.

But not this year. This year, I will get no letter from Mommy with the usual photos of the barbecue – my sister will not share photos of Mommy enjoying the barbecue surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren on Facebook.

Still, Mommy is with me. So although I’m not celebrating the 4th, I am remembering and celebrating the love she dispensed to her children and everyone who was fortunate enough to know her.

 

a poem for Jourdy

“she’s mine” you smiled
with gritted teeth
“I got her” you said
all steel underneath

you saw my heart was breaking
you got that the rain was too loud
you musta known I couldn’t take it
that sympathetic, well-meaning crowd

“I got this”
pulling my arm as you insisted
that everyone leave me alone
to my surprise, no one resisted

so tight you held onto me
with one youthful, tattooed arm
in that moment I was grateful
I knew you’d keep me safe from harm

so long have you loved me
when did that begin?
why do you love me so?
when we’re not blood – we’ve different skin

yet on the day of the funeral,
a horrid, slow-motion blur
you stood at my side
a warrior you were

many have said they love me
but they ignored me when I cried
so many people claimed to love me
but it turned out they lied

many have said they love me
in my 59 years
on the worst day of my life you said it
as you wiped my tears

unconditional is your love
on that day, you showed your care
I’ll always love you, Jourdy
cause on that day, you were there

copyright © 2017 KPM

Sunday worship

the roof is high
endless miles of miraculous blue
I gaze on it reverence
inspired by the view

so high is that ceiling
spare white clouds like wispy souls
for such a space I’m thankful
I know God’s at the controls

the floor is well-laid
older than countless years
its borne the weight of thousands
eons of shocks & tears

done in a hopeful shade of green
that must have taken hours
my heart dances in awed silence
while bees sing amongst the flowers

I’m a gardener, I’m a shepherd
paying no heed to the clock
sending praise to God above
as I tend my floral flock

& when at last the church bells ring
the words “Hi Mommy” leave my lips
it’s then I smell her in the air
she lightly clasps my fingertips

once again I’m reassured
the Lord has heard my anguished cries
my Mom is forever with me
her love is infiniteit never dies

copyright © 2017 KPM

happy birthday, Dr Stonefinger

you’ve missed another birthday
‘n this is a big one
you’d be turnin’ 60
we’d a had such fun

I’ve learned how to cook
so in the oven I would bake
your very own special
extra chocolate birthday cake

just to tease you
61 candles would be on top
‘n the rest of the day
we’d party non-stop

following the
passionate love we’d make
we’d shower together after
then head out to the lake

for a change
you’d defer
you’d let me drive
I’d be your chauffeur

you’d be in charge of music
‘n you would navigate
you’d play air guitar
as we flew down the interstate

but it’s just another daydream
we’ll have no picnic at the beach
you dwell in heaven now
forever out of reach

happy birthday, beautiful boy
my most precious first love
one of the many angels
watching over me from above

happy birthday, Dr Stonefinger
be at peace, whatever you do
no matter where I go
I carry the love I had for you

copyright © 2017 KPM