There was a taste of Spring in the air today and I was thinking about my mother, Nessa and her sister Muriel, now also gone. The daffodils are starting to bloom and it reminded me of these two poems.
The first I wrote when my mother was going through the hell of late dementia and the second is more recent. They are the same daffodils in both poems.
The Vertues: The roots stamped with hony, helpeth them that are burned with fire. They have also such wonderful qualities in drying, that they consound and glew together very great wounds.*
I thought it was a fool’s errand, thought
we’d never find the place,
my mother trying to navigate
with only a vague address to go by –
a farm somewhere outside Millisle.
My children bored, fighting in the back seat,
my nerves on edge, my hands too tight
on the steering wheel, stress levels high.
But we got there, loaded sackfuls of bulbs
into the car’s boot, and paid the man.
For weeks afterwards, I’d look out the window
and see my mother on her knees, digging,
planting daffodils behind hedges, among trees.
My mother has descended into hell
(these biblical allusions haunt me),
and daffodils are the only colour in this Easter,
yellow incongruities across the dull fields,
painfully there, like the resurrection of love.
I cut them against despair, bring
huge bundles of them into the house,
beacons burning in vases, on windowsills.
It’s trespass time.
I’ll take my scissors
across the fields
to where my mother
planted her daffodils.
It’s not really stealing is it?
Anyway I feel no guilt,
there are so many drifts
a few dozen blossoms
won’t be missed.