My Mum was strong and stable

empty damaged room with mattress

Photo by Wendelin Jacober on

For Anne Biddle


The night my Nan left an ashtray of her lips she was neither strong or stable,

in the morgue of his overalls I watched how a woman grieves honestly

it broke my twelve-year old heart and an egg-wet robin came out.

I still have her fingerprints on a Nat King Cole thirty-three

sometimes he lifts me to the sun – it’s her fag goin out.


The night my Dad lost his Mum a Macmillan nurse made weak tea as he wept,

he was trying to be strong and stable but the factory man malfunctioned.

He planted a rosebush for her and snapped it when his legs faltered.

Recently my Dad and I had a conversation with a prolonged look,

these are the moments he sees my soul and I see his all raggy.


The first time I saw a strong and stable woman was my Mum against the waves.

She learnt how to swim the same way I did when I was in her water,

this woman made me strong and stable, she gave me my first coat,

blood red and warm in the hospital cold we were strong, stable.

The last time I saw her the sky was burning like an ashtray.


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