I came to live with you in lockdown, Mum.
I didn't ask. We kids thought it were best.
You must have wondered what was going on.
This grey intruder said he was your son.
Could that be right? Your children were the little
ones , the perishers. How many will be
staying? Only me, Mum. No one else.
And yet the kiddywinks were there, the saucy
monkeys, little herberts, in the shadows.
I must make the beds up, you would say.
Where do the others go, d'you know?
What bliss that spring was with the world becalmed.
The heat bore down on Ditcheat, loveliest
of hamlets, where you lived - alone since Judy died.
Then I arrived and interrupted your
repetitive routine of eating cereal
from a saucepan lid and watching Pointless
in the afternoon. We were concerned
about your echoes but need not have been
as you had made a virtue of repeats:
ten times a mother, nappies, nursery rhymes
and nurture to the power of ten, recycling life,
winding down, decelerating cogs.
You sang Tom Cobbly and the words came back
no hiccup. like the litany of your litter -
Mary Richard Elizabeth William Judith
Patrick Peter Matthew Timothy Gareth -
the tongue articulate, the singsong sweet.
The village dozed, the horses dragged their hoofs,
the church clock ceased to chime. D'you know,
there's not a breath of wind, you'd say. You disappeared
sometimes to sift through piles of laundry, which
were mem'ries, and came back distraught. You asked
of Bruce. You'd not seen him for years.
enthroned you in the village hall with songs
and second generation at your feet.
The children now are gathered but this time
to sing goodbye, oh mother tenfold loved,
and to your poignant question make reply
that Bruce will be with you beneath the sky.