Sunday, 18 March 2012
Listen With Mother
When I was in Brighton the other day, I kept thinking (gladly and fondly, not in the least sadly) of the times my mother used to take me there for day trips when I was a child. Someone contacted me to ask what I am thinking about for much of the time as I stroll along the beach in the video. Now you know:
Like many of my poems, this one appeared in an anthology before I subsequently included it in a collection; it is, for obvious reasons, a favourite of mine.
It is Mother’s Day here in the UK. I wrote the poem as a tribute to mothers worldwide, not least my own mother who died at the age of just 59 during that long, hot summer of 1976. I was 30 years-old then, and still miss her.
Mum was none too happy when I finally got around to telling her I am gay, but she was supportive in her own way and it made it clear that she loved me no less for it. This has made a world of difference to me, giving me a self-confidence in my sexuality I might otherwise have lacked and encouraging me to be open about it for a good thirty years, even if it did take a severe nervous breakdown to make me shake off the shackles of those offensive stereotypes with which I’d grown up.
Now, mother love isn’t just about mothers of course; there are many women (and men) who, for various reasons, may be called upon to take on the maternal role to children other than their own; like birth mothers across the world, they, too, rise to the challenge and well deserve our love, admiration, respect and gratitude.
Ah, but we should never forget (as I fear we often do) that mothers are only human; we should give them some space sometimes, and never take them for granted.
LISTEN WITH MOTHER
Listening, she and I, to a mad world
Commuters, shoppers, trick cyclists,
all out to beat the clock
Muggers, pickpockets, rogue hoodies
targeting old ladies
Says a prayer for loved-ones spat on
in our courtrooms
Wonders aloud why, surely, no spring
so cold and bleak?
Yet…claps her hands, laughs, mimics
the first cuckoo in my ear
Proves it just isn’t true that no one hears
nightingales any more
Tells fairy stories with happy endings
to kids with HIV-AIDS
Remarks how grey the landscape where
once green fields
Sings lullabies to frail tree spirits made
homeless in old age
Never a life more lived or, even in death,
a voice more loved
[From: Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]