Thursday, 4 January 2018

In my mother's house

In dirt of blue-grey modelling clay
Where Sapien was Homo and happy still gay
That’s where my fathers son tottered to walk
With mother of headline, ruler and chalk.
Overarching boughs of green, cloisters of the lane,
Divided sparse fields, every mearing a drain.
With fences of thorn, of black and of haw,
And ruts in those lanes that sun never saw.
That’s where I would leave, come back to settle,
At one with the lakelander, heron and nettle.
Rutted lanes and lost lanes, blending in stride,
On penance-path to school, drinking pool beside.
My father was hardly a father at all
I still don’t know what a father was,
His answer to why things were as they were
The always same; because, because.
We were holy in a ritual way
Hymns and psalms were sung,
And chanted like the Hare Krishna
When Angelus bell stuck out her tongue.
She taught me numbers one by one
An abacus made from her beads,
She said ‘the world survives on mouthfuls
And mouthfuls come from seeds’. 

In the lane I counted her fingers,
I counted from thumb to ten,
A finger for every year of my life,
Never counted her fingers again

(Dedicated to John McGahern, the greatest wordsmith of them all!)


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