Sins of the Mothers
Endearments for her older daughter
always tasted like bitter aloes to Nana.
So, you grew up tallying:
sister receiving better doll for Christmas,
sister getting double portions hugs and kisses,
sister has such pretty eyes.
Until as adults, you clashed like Siamese fighting fish
in the small bowl of family life,
until events separated you.
At your funeral, in breath amongst relatives
who had last seen me gamine as a transgender child;
now in picture hat, chiffon dress, winged eyeliner;
achieving a bottom-of-the-bill impersonation of you.
Grandmother reviewed twenty years’ worth gossip
about your scandalous red-top life;
shuddered at image of a ménage with the dodgy lodger
who had squired me to the funeral.
But watching me over Sunday lunches, weekend stays,
decided like-mother-like-daughter did not apply.
So, I exchanged views of chemical plants
for views of Nana’s cottage garden.
I felt your beyond-the-grave brooding at my Brutus betrayal,
would justify I was using Nana for cheap digs whilst at
or playing the long game for her des res.
Kept up a low-level rebellion too; running up rent arrears,
picking at chicken thighs, chicken breast, chicken wings…
best she could afford on her pension and my peppercorn
made long-past-her-bedtime phone calls to inform staying out,
friends giggling in the back ground;
all shrugged off with She deserves it.
But some Sundays over homemade cake,
she would reminisce childhood tales of your mother
as if you had died in teenage years.
We would stomach-stitch laugh when she thought
Elvis played football for England,
or under cover of late afternoon light,
confidences about her penny-dreadful childhood.
Maudsley had me reassess your own mothering.
I saw how the sins of the mothers were handed down.
So, at the sight of Nana’s hearse, tears ambushed me
for the Night-Night kisses,
Do you want a hot water bottle?
waving me off to work with a packed lunch.
Whilst she was a Mommie Dearest to you,
she was not the wolf dressed up as grandma to me …
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Fiona Sinclair would be
pleased to hear them.