The Iceberg roses are beautiful this year.
My mother had a hedge of them in her garden: a mass of white billowy pompoms. I’ve got more than I probably should have in a tiny garden and the delphiniums have taken the brash hump and pushed their way through.
We put her there when we couldn’t cope,
when she’d tired you to bone.
Not meaning to.
Three years she stayed with us,
snug in that arm chair where she could see you in the garden
her hands arthritic gnarled, veins creeping proud violet.
She had her things:
silver hair brush, remote control, Woman’s Own, a box of toffee and
I sat and brushed her hair sometimes and brought her tea.
You heaved her unable body and cleaned her and smoothed on the cream that stopped
the red sores, acid-burned into her skin.
We should have cried at the hallucinations,
the loose-lipped rabid talking without pause,
but she spoke of your childhood:
shoo-ing the geese from the yard, high pitched,
talking gently to the cows
broom in hand, arms outstretched
asking me to close the gate behind them.
We didn’t like sending her away.
Even just for a weekend to your sister
so that you could
You paced in her empty room and nettled your conscience
and burned cigarette ends into your guilt.
But your colour came back
and your eyes widened to clearness.