You made it all about you,
and in the normal way of the world
it would have been,
but what did you ever do
to give me reason to feel for your overdue grief?
Being a mother is more
than conceiving and giving birth, more
than feeding and clothing your little one, not
that he was always clothed properly;
one of his punishments was to be shut out in the winter cold,
in no coat,
just tee shirt and shorts.
And what were his crimes –
could it be that he was in the way
of your fine romance with
a bully of a man?
Yes, I understand
that it was he who shut out your son, he
who beat and abused him, but you were his mother,
who should protect him if not you?
Instead of giving him a better life
you took the abuser’s side.
That boy lived in misery
until the authorities freed him
from your blotted approximation of love.
Where was your maternal heart then?
Did you miss his unwelcome presence?
Did you ache for his scars?
At seventeen he tried to reach you,
squeezing in when you least expected him,
but you had better things to do…
finding an excuse you’d run away,
scattering scraps of indifference for him to pick up
and weave into a kinder shape, and display,
as if they described a mother’s love.
He smiled, but no one was fooled.
That smile of his…
oh, that smile, and the way that he could take away the pain
leading us through a city of invented thrills
to the yellow brick road.
He was nineteen when the reaper came
longer than his lifetime ago.
I walked the yellow brick road alone,
but this time it was grey and made of coldest stone.
We buried his ashes,
your tears of self-pity darkening the dirt, bleeding
into our tears for all he would miss –
the birth of his son, a promised happiness –
and all we would miss.
What would you miss?
If he hadn’t died nothing would have changed.
You wouldn’t be crying, instead you’d be running away.
Do you still weep? I wept so many tears
for what you did to him,
for what all of this did to my daughter,
and so much more,
but at this time of year my family meets
to celebrate the memory of his many antics, both good and bad,
and again I ask his forgiveness
for not burying my anger alongside him.
He wanted us to be one family
but you scuppered even that wish.
I long to forgive you,
yet what kind of mother only thinks to love his son
when he is dead?
The Daily Post #Bury
©Jane Paterson Basil