Sunday, 22 January 2017
(For my mother, Brenda Lynette Creighton, 1919-2014, and first published in Verse-Virtual)
I watch the rise and fall of her chest,
listen intently for her breath,
part fearful, part hopeful,
waiting for death to come,
knowing that life can be lived for far too long.
Where is she now?
With her much-loved mother?
Smelling the rich warmth of the milking shed?
Seeing her brothers walking across the near paddock?
Let her be anywhere but this
diminished and difficult present
where vitality is gone,
and each day she seems to fade a little more.
There is a little smile,
as if sweetness cannot be washed away,
no, not even by the relentless grip
that sweeps her inexorably along.
Suddenly, seeing that smile,
I think of what she was,
how she walked through this world
in quiet anonymity, a creative spirit,
deeply gentle, calm and self-controlled,
flexible, open and inquisitive,
her heart tempered in love,
and bending to kiss her, perhaps for the final time,
walking from that place,
past the repetitive muttering
of the vacant ghosts in their wheel chairs,
this sad, last abiding place,
my heart is strangely swelling
with a sense of privilege and gift;
yes, sad that life can come to this
but proud and elated to have known her,
been nurtured and loved by her,
marvelling that my anonymous life
can be so rich, so full of blessing,
so beautifully filled in its entirety
with the wonderful love of women,
and raising my eyes heavenwards
in silent, sad, complex thankfulness
I ask that I can carry her gentleness with me,
passing it on to those that I love,
yes, setting free her unknown greatness
to ripple and wash through and over
the countless generations yet to come.