A Shetland AnthologyEels II   |  On the Death of my Mother ...

Christine De Luca was born in Bressay but spent most of her formative years in Walls where her father was Headmaster of the local Junior Secondary school. She now lives in Edinburgh and works in assessment research at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. She was a teacher of Geography for 10 years at Broughton High School in Edinburgh. Shetland Library has published two collections of her poems:  Voes and Sounds in 1995 and  Wast wi da Valkyries in 1997. She is a regular contributor to  The New Shetlander and other Scottish magazines.

On the Death of my Mother at Midsummer

June in the north is a convocation
of life: a barely dipped sun,
a shower of birdsong
and a suddenness of flowers.

My mother's room is still. She turns her eyes
at the call of raingeese: out of decay
the blue bird-brightness of her gaze
holds summer's tincture.

Time's at a standstill now: for years
she's chased and bullied it, imposed upon it,
filled it to the brim.
But now the pendulum is set
to pause at every turn.

She turns her eyes again, following
the birds' flightpath. Momentarily
they lift her world beyond
its withering perimeter.

I sit prepared, yet unprepared:
it is momentous, this threat of separation;
alternately focusing
and then eliminating thought.
Unfinished conversations hover: words
have an all or nothingness
about them. We lapse into a silent vocabulary
of eye and hand, a collusion of smiles.

I watch her breath flicker
ever more feebly,
until at last the moment comes
unremarkable: one final sip of June
then quietness.
Suddenly the raingeese call
wildly as they pass,
but no eyes turn.

A Shetland AnthologyEels II  |  On the Death of my Mother ...

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