Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mothers and Daughters

Here are three pieces of writing about mother-daughter relationships. I wrote them prior to my mother's death but I never read them to her.

What was I feeling?
Love, happiness or pain?
When she told me
'Yes, I do love you.'
I didn't suddenly feel
a rush of happiness.
No, it was strange
how those words gave me
a hollowed cradling of pain.
It was so late;
the years had been silent.
Now in her dependence
she realised, the strange
daughter she had raised
was like herself,
the voice,
the skin,
the tendency to butt into conversations
and the ability to be a nurse,
after all.

If Only
If only I knew you in childhood summers when you galloped over dry Mallee paddocks on your favourite horse, your red hair flying. Now you lean towards the television from your sunlit corner seat, straining to hear the newsreaders’ litany of grabs of violent deeds.

If only I observed your watchful gaze over hospital patients during war years, your attentiveness through long nights, assisting in the cycle of birth and death, and five children of your own. We took your skills as the norm, protecting us from clean.

If only I was sensitive to your view of the feminine as homemaker, your acceptance of a nurturing role. Stamina we took for granted, a focussed heart and magical hands which drew the extended family like spokes in a moving wheel.

If only I had conceded our indifference. Gallivanting to Nepal, Montreal, Suva distanced us. We prattled of foreign adventures, ignored your inability to leave, as you stayed still, always there. We fell, bruised, confused, and called home, reverse charge.

If only we took the time to notice your pain, your shy eyes as you stood alongside Dad in his community focus and civic duty, laughed at his stories a hundred times. Dad died, you were alone and your role dissipated in confusion.

If only we had become good friends years ago but we were both affected by different paths and agendas. Yet we women, both mothers, are in a treadmill society where others set rules and fracture, and we pick up the pieces.

Now I see you as a friend not the role of ‘mother’. If we do not love one another we are like dead branches in a drought-parched land.

Seasonal blessing

When spring buds gently appear
may new forms surprise you
with their unexpected breath.

When summer flowers open out
and wave their coloured flags
may you have a discerning eye

When autumn leaves drift softly
may their maps of silver lines
grace your footsteps.

When winter’s chill sweeps under foot
may we all be reminded of blue skin
and that bones are brittle.



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