Saturday, November 24, 2012
My newest mother is peering down the Brownie camera lens
while I, in your arms, scowl at the box.
I'm two and a half years old
And not used to having my photograph taken.
My newest backyard is still an unfamiliar playground,
But safe within your arms, the strangeness holds no fear.
I'm eight years old,
It's dark, you hold my hand as we descend the cast-iron steps to your underground workplace.
I've never been in a canteen,
My eyes and ears absorb the sights and sounds of tea trays being delivered through little wall hatches
And the merry chatter of people enjoying their evening meal.
I feel certain it's the same evening, you take me to a big house,
Up the stairway to a room where both cheery mother and bustling brood welcome us with lively banter.
I love being here.
I protest at leaving the joyful spirit of this tenement lodging.
I'm ten years old,
I wait at the corner of our avenue on balmy summer Friday nights.
You bring sixpenny bars of chocolate, that's all I remember.
I'm twelve years old,
You arrive to our house every few weeks with your first-born daughter
In her magnificent high pram with the rose on the side.
I get to wheel her up the avenue. I get to hold her.
I want to be a mother like you.
I'm seventeen years old,
I'm living with your Mam and Dad.
I don't see you as often as I'd like
But I see your first-born daughter some week-ends.
I'm forty five years old,
You hold me in your arms as I grieve the loss of my not-so-new mother.
She had her problems but she was a good mother.
I'm forty nine years old,
We hold each other as we grieve the loss of my not-so-new father.
He had his problems but he was a good father.
We're both older mothers now.
I don't see you at all.
I want to hear your voice again.
I want to hold you and feel your motherly arms around me.
I want to savour the chocolate bars one more time.
© Ann Brien 2012
Above image: Me, taken by Julia in my backyard, 1954.
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