Ma would sleep each afternoon.
In the tick-tick rustle of the gas fire.
I would sit back against the old sofa.
Watch flames jerk and flitter.
Wondered why the fire was
waffle-squared and why its edges
went brown in heat.
Why our house was cluttered and dusty
when others weren’t. 
I listened to the rustle of Ma’s uniform
when she turned,
as the smell of hospitals wafted from her.
Now and then my head would touch
the cold silver of her sisters buckle
and I would jerk forward,
afraid I might wake her.
She breathed like someone with asthma.
Smoked far too much and groaned
as if in pain, as I laid a rug over her.
I saw the twitch of lid I know now
to mean deep sleep.
Wondered what she dreamt about.
If she was happy there.

Miki Byrne

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Miki Byrne would be pleased to hear them.