Tag Archives: bereavement

Double helix


Genetic code
your gift to me
arranged by spindles
woven to a whole



Though genes alone
are never enough
to explain what defines me
indelibly your daughter



Created from you
though my eyes be green
yours deepest brown
can a smile be found in our DNA?



Absent now
your double helix
dances still
your gift to me


The moment of loss

I thought I would share with you, dear reader, the reworked poem Vigil, in a previous life known as You leave again. Initially the idea was to explore the notion of repeated loss relating to one individual – in my case, my mother. However, I felt that the original version of the poem did not convey this adequately and the agenda was overtaken by the power of the moment of death. Since I don’t have sufficient skill to tackle both subjects successfully in the one poem I edited You leave again to focus on the days leading up to her death. However, I hope that Vigil still indicates that grief is coloured by our previous experiences. And so, the 29 year old woman finally holding her mother’s hand is also the 8 year old child who watched as her mother left – suitcase in hand. She is simultaneously woman and girl and at the moment of her mother’s death feels forsaken, longing for the comfort of her mother. But the mother, too, is the small bereft child – the adult daughter recognising her mother’s grief – a moment of understanding. Writing this poem has been absorbing. It has taught me much – allowed me to reflect, to ponder. In focussing on my overwhelming desire to hold my mother’s hand, the poem also points to the need to feel connected. To feel as one with her as she died in a way that perhaps I couldn’t when she was alive – despite our intense love and friendship. Perhaps that 8 year old child in me was frightened to get too close to her lest she disappear again – but held her hand as she sat and watched her die.


I cannot hold your hand

I sit beside your bed   tubes   machines   monitors
All so familiar   but you are not
Your bloated face is not the one I crave
Your sparkling eyes closed   your voice silenced

Grown woman    young girl
The girl you left   the woman you leave
A small child   bereft   longing
Contained in a woman’s body

I cannot hold your hand

Left swathed in bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
De-gloved the morbid medical term for your injury
In your right    an arterial line shouts you are alive

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

Days pass   a seated vigil   remembrance
I speak to you   your eyes are closed
Face a mask   I cannot hold your hand
There is only hope    there is none    I hope

I sit and hold your foot     you would scream
Laugh   kick me away   if you could

The phone rang incessantly
There were only two calls
With the second ring
Your pupil   fixed   dilated

I scream and sob and run and cry and I cannot hold your hand
You are having a CT scan and I cannot hold your hand
Your skull can no longer contain your precious mind
You are dying   you are dead but for machines

I cannot hold your hand

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

I cannot hold your hand and you are dying
I say fuck the arterial line
Bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
I am touching it now

I am holding your hand

Object memory









It sits on the mantelpiece now
That molten mass of memory
Glowing with luminous force
To a casual observer it would seem
An odd thing
To display for all to see
Fused irregularity
Shaped by inferno
It is what remains

Murano glass, once a necklace
In chunky Sixties style
Olive green, gold interior
It would have looked fabulous
With what I wear today

My mother’s necklace

Golden clasp and beads
Embedded within silken lava
Curved metal emerges like
Strange antennae
Closer inspection reveals
Bra underwires that
Shared the drawer that is no more

Great tits! My father’s friend said
Defiling my precious object
Vessel of memory
Connection to past, to home

A mother’s love


I visited you today
In that dark and ancient place


The creek is running swiftly now
Full of Winter’s rain
I wonder what remains

of You there, as I

Stand upon the bridge, where once so long ago
You were swallowed by the flow


You would have laughed today
To see me dressed so
Two dresses, black of course
Jacket of pistachio green

stockinged feet, encased

By gumboots, bought in haste


You would have held me
And comforted me as I cried
For losses old and

fresh and new

And pondered hopes that died


You would have smiled though
And waved goodbye
As I dried my eyes and

changed my shoes

And bid you farewell once more