MOTHER WHEN YOUNG

You come to mind unexpectedly.
Chestnut curls, eyes like a summer sky.
Stature small, shapely as though curved for love.
Laughter and stories of Liverpool.
The Irish influence.
You cut bread, table banging the wall.
Burn the toast.
You call, “Go canny with the butter!”
And when I take your chair:
“Would you jump in me grave so fast?”

I hear your footsteps, high heels tapping
Along the road all the way home
With shopping from the butcher,
Fishmonger, baker –
Groceries, vegetables –
Bought at separate shops
And hauled back in triumph! There were wages this week.
So make the best of it!
My school blouse home-made,
Gloves hand knitted – and my hat!

The kitchen walls washed – the floors scrubbed.
A fire under the copper burning –
The dresser polished –
Washing rinsed clean – flapping on the line.
Mint picked fresh –
For roast lamb when we could afford it.
The cat had kittens in a box
Under the sink.

Before Christmas –
Mince pies, pudding.
A cake with marzipan and icing.
I scrape the bowl.

You made poultices for boils.
Rubbed Vick on my chest.
You cut the hedge, the lawn,
Dug up the garden, planted flowers;
Decorated, burnished the door brass.
Cleaned the windows,
Hung snowy net curtains,
Reddened the step.
And always more…….I am thankful.

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