A Month Before is a poem about loss; the loss of life but not the loss of love. Bereavement affects us in different ways – we all have our own coping mechanisms. Some of us want to shut ourselves off from the past as a way of managing emotional pain; others seek a constant reminder. Sometimes, it can seem like a betrayal to relinquish the memories, to let go….
A Month Before
25th May –
about a month before
my mother makes an annual pilgrimage.
Week one: she sets off gently,
matter of factly.
We’re driving past allotments
at Inverleith Park.
‘Your father loved his vegetable garden.’
This is not news.
She’s misty eyed.
I consider resting a hand on her knee
but changing gear preoccupies me.
Week two: her pace quickens.
We’re admiring the Forth Rail Bridge,
framed by a restaurant window.
A waiter whisks past:
steam, parsley, garlic.
‘Alistair adored moules marenieres.’
My mother is almost deaf –
shouting sympathy somehow seems inappropriate.
Week three: she’s making solid progress.
Earl Grey at Hopetoun House Tea Rooms
before tackling the Farm Shop.
My views on Adam fireplaces go unheeded.
‘The nights are the worst,
I can hear him.’
My mother is my mother
I am her child.
I abandon a sermon on positive thinking.
Week four: she’s made it.
We’re sitting on her patio,
that overlooks the weed-choked vegetable patch,
drinking coffee from a Portmeiron set –
a wedding present.
I allow my tears to fall,
clasp her bony shoulders against me,
and feel her sobbing.
© Martin Redfern 2012
A Month Before was originally published by Flarestack Publishing in Obsessed with Pipework’s Issue 62, spring 2013.