My mother waits in the great ante-chamber
When I kissed my mother for the last time, she was no longer there.
Her hands still waved, as if seeking to drink,
but her mind had already passed over the great river
and was safe on the other side, beyond the power of hurt.
As she has lain, falling slowly towards death, this year
I have found in her the mother I could not find in life.
All that jammed our mutual radar fell away,
and I could experience the love she always meant, but which,
somehow, got so jangled in transmission.
Towards the end we met on equal terms, she
no longer feeling that ancient need to stand her ground,
her insecurities always on display around me;
and I no longer needing to attack, for now she was beyond
anywhere where I could, at last, have made her hear me.
So, finally, we were together.
Just … together, nothing more.
She told me what she wanted at her funeral had saved
against her end not a stash of pills, but service-sheets.
And so, at last, I knew her as she had always known me. Two angels
unable to recognise each other throu their mortal clothing.
In fact my mother was admitted to the sky a couple of hours after I wrote this.
The Gift in Death
The gift in death
is one of ultimate clarity.
All that obsesses us
in our humdrum lives abruptly
reduced to extreme simplicity.
We are here, now,
alive, forever united in death
that crystaline moment
when flesh & spirit separate:
each discrete path
released from its earthly mold.
The physical, visible:
the meta-physical seen only by
the inner eye.
The path that was trodden in life at last
earth-bound or sky-borne in destination.
A time of uniquely
valuable focus, an aquifer
feeding our well-spring,
tears arising from long-dry ducts,
burning to light
deep-buried truth of hopes and fears.
the bleakness is honouring the dead
each special feeling
bringing us contact with our own truth.
proof that the dead are always with us
birth & death
just marks on an eternal cycle,
the seen & unseen worlds, each as
close to other
as blood to its surrounding tissue.
Ave Maris Stella
And so it’s down to this:
from my mother I’d wanted
a sense of place in the world
but this she couldn’t give me,
never finding her own.
Now she’s dead, I see
how what she gave me was
a ‘bridged uncertainty’,
an inchoate knowledge of
that complex emptiness
where arrival is departure,
the world of paradox
where learning to be empty
we discover fullness.
I cannot say how far
my mother finally got
along the swaying rope bridge
linking earth and sky
above the foaming rapids.
In one sense she was always
there for even as her
frail and weary flesh
wavered each step across
the terrifying void
her soul shone, beckoning.
My mother’s gift and challenge:
the journey I must complete,
that inner mystical union,
the arrival at my birth.
And so she’s with me now.
Never an earthly guide,
yet now the stella polaris
which she sought herself
and so at last becomes.
I have not lost a mother, but gained a guide.
Released from flesh, and all that that implies,
I feel her presence now a joyful bride
entering the royal mansion of the skies.
What she yearned for most was to belong.
A simple soul, she wanted love too much
and had to live with loss, but it made her strong:
she felt no shame in making faith her crutch.
Where inspiration comes from noone knows:
it arises from a geology of the heart.
For me in flesh a soil which blocked my flow
my mother now in spirit seems to impart
an upward passage throu which waters go …
and see, above, how all the fountains start!
the morning of her funeral
Lord by your mercy
let me be her work.
Bring me to completion
as she would have wished …
throu her grace, a feather
on the breath of god,
yet held by gravity,
let me be spirit on earth.
May I know what you want
by what she inspires.
May my life express
the suddenness of joy.
Time for a new timetable,
created not by logic
but by feeling a clock
whose hands are moved by love.
The morning after the funeral
The morning after the funeral
In a relationship with a parent
that doesn’t quite work we are constantly like
a mechanism that reaches a point
where another gear should engage …
It’s like a design fault we carry around
and reproduce in later life.
The infant impulse is to blame,
to demand our unmet need;
but a mature perspective shows us
that such incongruity
makes a first-class tool for seeing
into the nature of life itself.
I kept mama at bay because
her wish for a shared love deluged me,
drowning my young awareness in what
could have nurtured my growing life;
so that I became a body
sinking where I should have swum.
Here we see how karma works
over successive generations.
My mother looked for that great love,
that one enduring incandescence
which every woman craves and no man
ever truly understands
she wanted especially to live throu me.
She did not see how the same boat
could not have rescued both of us.
I lit out and swam to shore.
I’m not sure she ever did,
marooned at the mercy of the sea.
I’ve heard of a therapy in my dreams
where parents and children swim together
on the current of their eyes,
borne upstream on natural love
that comes when two are willing to
voyage on that waterless river.
With human eyes we could not do this,
but now I sense a dam of blessings
tower above me. Keeping focus
on her eyes I remove a block
and all around cascades a wall
of heaven-scented butterflies.
And yet I find I’m still alive!
The gift: to live within this state.
The challenge: to accept an angel
whose energies I long rejected.
The wave has broken over me
leaving a tide of stardust and rose petals.
The letters tumble off the page,
which becomes a vacuum,
and terror like a beast uncaged
prowls the white & glaring room.
Common meanings, held in place
by shared perception, disintegrate
when someone dies, and so the space
that’s left becomes an anarchic state.
My mother’s house contained her world,
all that she was therein exprest
emptied of what she once had valued
it’s as if her life’s disperst,
her character obliterated
surviving now in memory
alone, until we too, as fated,
leave the living family.
As each picture is removed
the dustlines left around the walls
leave only the ghost of love
echoing a deserted hall.
What is it lives within a space
and slowly dies as memory fades?
Where is the energy that can outpace
these implacable engulfing shades?
In music and spirituality
alike, it is the intensity
of creative clarity
that defines longevity.
Truly there is a narrow path
that leads across the formless waste
between the two nights till by the faith
we see the dawning of the day.
Meanings have to fall apart,
words collapse in anarchy,
for this is how we learn by heart
and come to understand the key.
The fusion of brain and heart and will
in service of a greater good
produces a result that still
cannot be linearly understood.
Logic is for human goals.
They who seek to penetrate
the riddle some call ‘god’ are souls
who learn how intimately Fate
appears a dominant force; yet each
by this is given a chance for learning
how to be open to what they search
appearing another way of seeing;
one in which their integration
allows for synchronicity
to demonstrate, in their creation,
how each must own complicity.
Thus this seems to be life’s riddle:
the skill with which we dance our jig
depends on how we hear the fiddle
that the mæstro plays. And that’s the gig!
Studying this phenomenon
the result with which I’m faced
is that coherence alone brings clarity
and clarity alone brings grace.
And grace alone can fly us throu
the dark night of disintegration
when meanings fail, and what seemed true
mocks all hope of a salvation.
This was my mother’s final journey.
We all who witnest her despair
knew the pain of her latter agony
and could only watch with prayer;
yet in that harsh ordeal by fire
in which all hope is burnt to dust
she never lost her heart’s desire
to see God’s love repay her trust.
So may she now be fathered and found,
at home, at rest, at peace; her pain
released, rewarded with the crown
which they who love till death can claim.
We can’t evade the ferryman
who carries all beyond his stream
yet if we travel light we can
o’erfly the Styx as in a dream.
Thus each can clearly look at death
yet not by death be seen. For this
we have to trust the power of breath
to be exactly present: Now is
Always Eternity is Now.
This is what each sage has taught
to set the spirit free, and how
all may escape when caught.
All these enigmas crowd the rooms
my mother once inhabited;
vacant now, her power perfumes
the lives of all who visited.
Tho her house be empty, bared
for other occupants, she lives
behind my eyes, and I’m prepared
to keep her idealism alive.
A fond farewell and then we part.
All that was familiar gone,
yet each of us within our heart
carrying memories all life long.
Here in this hallowed earth your body we rest,
Here where the service of God has been honoured for centuries:
Here where the spirits of all ancient souls are present
to welcome you back to the land of the living and free:
Here where the arc of all your life’s hope was highest.
Here your earthly family gathered to celebrate
your passage as a girl, then wife, then mother;
and now as a homecoming spirit drawn back to glory.
May the loving Christ enfold you
into this earth, in eternal life.
May your parents bless you now
at last in spirit reunited.
May your ghostly father-in-God,
his eyes on the hills, promise you peace.
Go forth on the voyage your life prepared you for,
Exploring the incommunicable bliss
which is the reward of all your suffering.
Become yourself the polar star, whose light
you always sought, and so guide wayfarers.
Bless us all, your children, now and always.