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Dear Mum,

it was a shock to see you in hospital, overstretched just
                                living at home
                                and still I hadn’t admitted just
                                              how ill you are
                                and the meet to make the final arrangements
                for whenever they become and seeing you face up to this yourself
                                              has shown me dealing with icing and marzipan
                                                              and not a lot much courage

                it is almost guaranteed that we will not say goodbye as we would like
                                I’d like to say all the things that a Grand Goodbye at the End of a Life
                                              through the choke and early mourning wisp of times
                                                              we grew together in Genesta Road
                                that will always remain

                                              that you are coming to the end of your life
                                is so definitely sad, you said that
                                              you don’t want us to be too upset
                but I am going to be anyway, and already am
                                I will be losing a dear parent
                                I will be losing a dear friend
                                              and I have to be sad about that
(with Nan I came through the crying by learning the times we spent together
                like a lesson, sharing and doing
                                I wish I had shared this with her)
                                              I will be sad losing you
                but I won’t be sad because I am losing our lives together
                                these things which have already happened
                                              which cannot be lost
                                even when you die
                                even when I die:

                your fight to bring us up after Dad left
                                the sacrifices moving down from Eglington Hill
                                              a posh meal only on Sundays
                you said to me one day that we were only a paper delivery away
                                              from the standard of living as when Dad was there
                                as we crossed a road doing shopping for here and there
                the happy stores we had in for Christmas
                                you having to go to work every day
and making the best of it coming home
                                              to the sparse meal to help with the diet
                                                                                    hundreds of times
                hundreds of times which I cannot remember and never experienced
but stay in my heart
                it wasn’t effort in vain
                it wasn’t not noticed
                it wasn’t not valued

Thank you.   I was aware

                                from quite early that
                                I was one of very few children
                                whose parent had left them in the 1960s
                your bringing me up is one of the most treasured things in my life
                                              you taught me this
                                although I still haven’t mastered
                or even learnt it very well: carrying on in duty and love
                                you have had much to be bitter about
                                but I have seen you – visibly – emerge
                                like a Phoenix “come on, this is no good …”
                (I am a depressive and a self – indulger and “aren’t you ever going to smile again …?”
                                              that child still does it – far too serious when there is anything to do
                                with him) and I treasure the laughs we had when younger
                                              I will learn to have them in my own family
                because I will miss you when you go
                                and every time I miss you I will have silly time with them
                I remember aching stomach at times
                                I remember you squealing with laughter
                                              I remember Nan’s joy at seeing you laugh so much when you did;
                                I know you hadn’t perfected it yourself
                                I know I only remember the times when it just happened
                                              but it is a valuable lesson

                the magic of Eglington Hill
                                with its many rooms, its endless floors
                                              become a symbol
of possibilities of life, the ‘scene’ of your providing and care
                the magic of Genesta Road
                                where I grew to learn how to see
                                the bedroom decorated orange and yellow
                                then black and white because you asked us
                with shelves to put my comics and books
                                the kitchen to study with the smell of meal
                                              the lounge to book and write and type …
                                                              flavours of my life
                my development now the space which you clothed me in
                                you are those flavours and
                                as I ‘develop’ into the future
                                you are always here
                                              (you always started from what I was
                                               and letting me do what I needed whether you liked it or not
                I try the same with my own kids
                but only remember when I fail
                                yet another lesson, Mum,
                                you have been so wise
                                              and neither you nor I have
                                              fully appreciated it)

                                the magic of reading:
                                the mere presence of books
                                the unfold of opening paper
                                the rocky uphill of snatched syntax
                the scent of travel the pride of cover
                                I try to have the same for my kids
                so that even if they never read them
                                              they will line their walls with book
                (Joe has satire and sci-fi and atlas
                                Jon has earth and struggle and revolution
                                              Charlotte has stacks and stacks of comic)
                                I will be satisfied with that and I hope you had a similar hope
                                              and yes, Mum, it worked
                                                              and it was valuable
                                                                                    another job well done, I think

                                invigoration of sheets over ourselves and haunting the Common one morning
                putting all the milk bottles from the street on the doorstep of one house a few doors down
                                              planning the front room when you won some money, allowing ourselves gift of ideas on wheels
                letting me go hitch – hiking when I suddenly said I needed to go – I still don’t know how you did that
                                friendship of strolling the park, the ruined Abbey, wandering Woolwich on a Saturday morning
                                                              Mother and Son strolling

                and yes, I can agree with you, you have had a good life
                wherever you go we will meet again in some way
                and these specks of our lives will intrigue us
                                              in some form familiar but unrecognisable
I am very sad to be losing you but comforted with what we have shared
                it is probably only now that I realise how much I love you
                                              and how closely we lived

                I shall miss the Mum who taught me a life
                                but I shall always be breathing the lesson

love from,


Mum died 20th March 1999; I wrote this letter but hesitated sending it – a regret of my life; I ‘send’ it now hoping she’ll read it somewhere.   Having marked her would-be 81st birthday the day before yesterday, I thought it high time …




part of the ongoing life and page of … Mum
bedroom wormhole: sitting up in bed s i m u l t a n e o u s l y
black wormhole: capes flying
books wormhole: Tulips by Sylvia Plath – How Far To Step Before You Raise The Other Foot
breathing wormhole: whirlpool
child & Christmas & Dad & Eglinton Hill & Genesta Road & mother & Mum & talking wormhole: letters to Mum IV – healing comes in smiling
comics wormhole: introducing / the stranger
death wormhole: we’re born // to die
kitchen wormhole: sounds // suddenly / stop
life wormhole & writing time: no exit
living wormhole: letters to Mum III – ongoing-term // eventually
love wormhole: a cup of tea, gov
morning & streets wormhole: oh-pen too
Nan & work wormhole: letters to mum II – family // like a grate
orange wormhole: the precision // the gentleness // and / the letting go
reading wormhole: stuck free to move within
roads wormhole: I could step / more open
Saturday wormhole: letters to Mum I – a walk / and talk
speech wormhole: we’re all the same age really
Sunday wormhole: zazen in everyday life
white wormhole: Bat-Shadow
Woolwich wormhole: ‘like a piece of ice on a hot stove / the poem must ride on its own melting’
yellow wormhole: on sitting / in front of / a hedge