makin’ tea for John

my baby likes to eat
but on Friday nights, when he’s beat
he likes it light
so I try to do it up right

I play CDs while I wait
dancin’ as I make up a cold plate
done, I’m like “girl, look at you –
that looks like a plate your Mama would do!”

& that makes me smile
(& I cry for a little while)
but I stop, cuz dude’ll soon be here
need to think of other things to serve to my dear

pre-heat the oven, I get out the dishes
still smilin’ & musin’ on old wishes
pizza, crab claws, fish goujons
yeah, me & bae’ll get our eat on

another summer Friday night
(& in my mind I see Mommy, framed by sunlight)
I wait for John, dance to Stanley Clarke
with a heart that – for now – has banished the dark

copyright © 2017 KPM

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as the storm approaches

everywhere I look
as far as my eyes can see
everywhere I look
there’s another memory

when the sun is hiding
when skies are fat with storm clouds gray
I remember all those summers
the tunes that we would play

something simple I’ll be doing
hoovering or mopping the floor
when – unexpectedly – I hear
your laughter at my door

I remember washing the car
while you drank beer on the deck
asleep, I often dream
of the taste of salt on your neck

I don’t know why I love you
I’m oft unsure if you love me
so far apart we are
love is futility

sometimes I wish I didn’t love you
I wish the past would set me free
but you’re the keeper of all my secrets
so I need you to love me

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

presence

she is there
reflected in the bathroom mirror
gazing out with eyes
strong & clear

she is there
cupped in the palm of my left hand
a firm yet gentle tug
which each morning helps me stand

& he is there
a sentinel beside my bed
the loving voice of reason
that speaks softly in my head

he is there
whenever I am most afraid
when I feel I can’t go on
his memory lends me aid

they’re all there
watching out for me
collective protection
that forces demons to flee

God is there
in the stormy skies above
shedding His precious tears
on the garden that I love

God is there
in my fingers on these keys
He’s my partner’s arms
giving me a gentle squeeze

God is here
on my skin, in my heart
assuring me that all is well
as I make a brand-new start

copyright © 2017 KPM

somethin’ to smile about

morning sunshine
clematis on the vine
coffee steamin’ hot
spaghetti in a pot

fish swimmin’ in their tank
a walk along the river bank
ironin’ my partner’s shirt
plungin’ my hands deep into dirt

freshly done hair
friends who show they care
knowin’ what comes next
an unexpected text

the poem that takes shape
the spider that didn’t escape
the shoes that went on sale
letters from home in the mail

Saturday mornin’ & Planet Rock
finally findin’ that missin’ sock
a bra that fits just right
Scotland’s luminescent light

in the car – away we go
Bowie on the radio
Sunday evenin’ glass of wine
your hand, always holding mine

copyright © 2017 KPM

8 years strong (for JBM)

on Friday evenings
when that buzzer rings
her palms get a bit damp
her wounded heart sings

she quickly checks her hair
making sure it’s free of frizz
before admitting the only person
who sees her for who she truly is

he never enters empty-handed
he brings his smile with the flowers & wine
& when he wraps his arms around her
everything in her life is just fine

leaning against the kitchen counter
she pretends not to watch his much-loved face
as she drinks that 1st glass of wine
while arranging her flowers in a vase

casually they talk – they share stories
about their respective work week
revelling in his Scottish brogue,
cause she loves to hear him speak

a big man he is
with a presence that fills the room
for the moment, she is safe
the demons can’t enforce their gloom

how did she get so lucky?
to find a man who does not dread,
a man who is not frightened
of the darkness that lives in her head

he’s stayed with her through joblessness
remaining steadfast in belief
now he holds her close at night
as she struggles with loss & grief

he doesn’t like to see her cry
but he knows enough to let her be
he does what little things he can
he’s a man who’ll never flee

many battles she’s fought in this decade
she’s wept through many a night
but she’ll win – she has no doubts
his love will lead her into the light

copyright © 2017 KPM

Saturday Rain

c’mon,
help me capture
that rapture

that wonder
from when we were young
every kiss a first kiss
a poem to all the songs we sung
our shared delight
in every day
secret words
only we could say

remember it?
that rapture
the love we captured

surely, we’d
invented sex
the sensual delight
in whatever came next
every whisper
every shout
tunes that locked
the whole world out

let’s just do it,
let’s re-capture
let’s re-creature rapture

cause we both know
one thing to be true:
you only love me
&
I only love you

copyright © 2017 KPM

no thunderstorms in Dundee (for Ellie G)

in Eleanor’s bed
I lay safe ‘n warm
peacefully listening to
a Cleveland thunderstorm
though my heart is heavy
I feel a touch of glee,
as I listen to the thunder,
so rare in my Dundee

cause there’s no thunderstorms in Dundee
thus I snatch this moment of glee
it’s a fact that often bothers me,
no thunderstorms in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
there’s nothing frightening
I’m content under the covers,
watching the lightning
my heart may feel a touch of gloom,
but I’m lovin’ those flashes –
the way they
light up the room

cause there’s no lightning in Dundee
so I revel in this glee
it’s a fact that often disturbs me
the lack of lightning in Dundee

in Eleanor’s room
with its cool green walls
I’m comforted knowing
Miz Gregory’s across the hall
the bed might be unfamiliar,
but I’ve got my Eeyore,
so I just listen to the thunder,
knowin’ there’s love outside that door

all too soon I’ll be on that plane
carryin’ my photos & my pain
takin’ back the love of many friends & family
hopin’ for a thunderstorm in Dundee

copyright © 2017 KPM