What were you thinking, mother
When you handed me a package
with a watch in it, marking my tenth birthday,
as I came to your bed that lonely winter morning?
The Rothko painting in the corner an abstract unreachable frieze
Me, mute with my longing for your love –
You, a distant angel, in buttoned-up Victorian nighty –
Dim morning light yellowing the pulled blind.
The quiet of that first house
echoes in me now, the years between an empty ache.
Later that day you would listen to Mahler's Songs of the Earth
Music heavy as a bowl of stones resting on a table
Covering the record sleeve, Monet’s field of crimson poppies
My father's first gift of music to you.
In the deep recesses of memory
You and I lodge
The decades billowing back
Like soft muslin curtains
To show the garden of the soul;
verdant childhood trees tangling -
The flagstones of my person
Laid down, flooring me.