Used to wonder why the snowdrops
hung their heads as if in sorrow,
then a young man died and I watched my child
grieve the loss.
When they showed their pale faces again,
These early harbingers of spring ease us
towards blossom and bursting buds,
ever obedient to the laws of time –
yet the residue of wintry death hangs behind them,
thinning down optimism.
Twenty-one years have been swept aside
yet each January they gaze mournfully at my feet
to remind me of his smile the day he hugged the shawl
for my unborn grandson.
Nobody saw it coming.
Two months later, the baby
took the name of his late father.
Some say it’s PTSD, but whatever the reason,
while my children grieve their dad’s sudden death,
it’s another face I see.
Soon, there will be a new family in this house
that lies beside my beloved wood.
We will be banished from our place of history.
I’ll whisper goodbye
to the walls that Paul and I wrote on,
laughing in the face of his father’s enraged disapproval
as we made ready to conceal them beneath two coats of paint.
Maybe some day the emulsion will peel away
and folks will see the wild, mild,
childishly anarchic scribbles of a mother and her son:
goolies, boobies, poo and do-do.
I’ll say goodbye to the rooms I repaired and painted,
the kitchen and bathroom I designed and created,
breaking down walls and building new, mixing plaster, sawing wood,
drilling, fixing, making,
working through the night to keep sleepless thoughts at bay
until the day I found the courage to walk away
from the home I loved
with such passion.
I’ll turn away from the garden I worked so hard on,
shaping flowerbeds and terracing,
sowing seeds and watching perennials grow,
only to see it wrecked when I left.
I’ll shout goodbye to memories of misery
and hope that the happy times
might be restored in my mind.
I’ll wave a regretful farewell to the trees
and to my dry-eyed,
virgin teardrops with their frill of new-born green.
I will think of you at this time of year
and always recall a young man’s warm smile
as he contemplated the birth of his child,
never suspecting it may be
©Jane Paterson Basil