When she realises, the figure approaching her bed,

is attached to a voice she recognises.

I get a mother’s, smile, wide, warm and welcoming.

My mum is blind but sees I’ve left  a door open.

I have plans

My mum is deaf but relays all the gossip of the ward

She chirrups and chatters like a budgie,

hopping from mirror to bell, to mirror

and back to bell.

I have things to do

I knew I wasn’t going to die in the operating theatre.

I woke up and saw a clock, and thought

I must be alive as heaven or hell

would have no need of clocks.

I have plans.

At 92 my mum is propped up by a snow drift of pillows

her hair, white, shines like a halo in a medieval painting

She lies, arm straight out, palm up (no sign of stigmata)

connected to a series of plastic bags.

I have things to do

Antibiotics, pain killers and food are being absorbed

Her decades old infrastructure, cope with

the Timothy Leary School motto made real.

Turn on , tune in and drop out.

I have plans

If I sold this on the street, she says,  I could make some money 

The nurse, checking the drips, is unsure of her response

Is mum is making a joke or

proposing a business deal?

I have things to do

Her face, a landscape of wrinkles, fissures and cracks

a legacy  of memories from spring and summer

to  autumn and winter repeated again and again.

In a kindly light there is wisdom, life, experience and joy

but of late, just after sunset, there is a tiredness and fatigue

a lengthening and darkening of unsettling shadows.

I have plans

Names, dates and places are fired at me with confidence

Aunts, Uncles, family plots, feuds and distant cousins

are all discussed and judged.

It’s a cinematic style review

I have things to do

Not only can she recall the original film

she knows the sequels, the spin-offs,

and all the shows she’s starred in.

or perhaps directed.

I have plans

Comedies, tragedies, rom-coms, action-packed thrillers

and ordinary, TV soap opera fare,

flicker and fade projected from her life

Secretly, I worry over where I parked the car.

I have things to do

All this time, Mum has hold of my hand.

She gives it a firm squeeze and tugs me in close

I’m six years old and we’re rushing, late for school.

I’m worried. I get a reassuring look

I have plans,  She says

I have things to do.

Former Picture Editor, sometime photographer and poet. Now looking after Undercliffe Cemetery. A Grade 2* Listed Heritage Site. A Victorian jewel in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

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