Personal yet Universal

My mother died, a few years ago, at the age of eighty-nine.  She had a long, happy life; but the last few years were marred by failing sight – due to the onset of “Age-related Macula Degeneration”.  Writing poems about one’s mother always incurs the danger of them being “too personal” and of no interest to anyone else.  And yet, what could be more universal than the mother-son relationship?

In the two following poems, I hope I have avoided the traps of sentimentality and personal reference.  The first poem is partly about her religious beliefs (she was a devout Roman Catholic), and the second one is about her encroaching blindness.

God in the Garden:

My brother and I clasp my mother’s hands,
as we walk in the afternoon light.
Her eyesight is fading; still she confirms:
“This is what Heaven must be like!”

Every Summer, we bring her to gardens.
Sheer pleasure, guaranteed, without fail.
She delights in the flowers, the fragrances.
A great gardener herself, but now frail.

Warm Summer breeze ruffles the trees.
Squirrels tussle in playful fight.
A smile of pure rapture creases her face:
“This is what Heaven must be like!”

Her lifelong faith in God still upheld,
now the end of life’s journey is near.
My brother and I have no such belief.
She approaches her fate with no fear.

Children’s laughter vibrates in the air.
A thrush sings with all of its might.
She sighs with contentment; repeats the refrain:
“This is what Heaven must be like!”

It was in my early teenage years
that God disappeared from my life.
No more of those silly, superstitious fears;
sceptical rationalism was rife.

A smile of wonderment on my mother’s face:
“This is what Heaven must be like!”
My brother and I exchange glances.
I only hope, for her sake, she is right.

Darkness Visible:

One morning, sipping her breakfast cup of tea, she claps a hand over one eye, says:

 “If I cover this eye, like that,
out of the other there’s nothing; just black.”
She repeats the action.  Sighs, sits back.
“There’s nothing.  Nothing there; just black.”

We, her sons, are horrified.
Want to run from this; want to hide.
She shrugs.  She is resigned.
It’s nothing malign, or unkind.
Just the fallible workings of fate,
which is blind.

 

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6 Comments

Filed under Poetry

6 responses to “Personal yet Universal

  1. Moving and poignant, what touching memories.

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