A Mother’s Lament

Estimated Reading time:   5 mins.
The following poem was inspired by a BBC television programme about life on the remote Scottish island of Fair Isle (famous for knitwear!).  As the island is so tiny, pupils are only taught up to the age of 11, after which time they then have to attend boarding school on the neighbouring island of Shetland.  The torment I witnessed on the faces of the parents was heartbreaking: having to be separated from their children at such an early age for weeks at a time.  These lines try to convey the torment of the mother, whose inner child eventually cries out to her Father (God) to ease her pain.  Hope you enjoy the poem.  Share it on your fb page only if you do.

A Mother’s Lament

The boat to the isles
ferries you away from me
churning up foam in a carefree goodbye.
Unlike I. Here I stand
naked to the core
half-drowning in emotions
swelling up inside me.
Jack-knifed by opposing currents
of longing and letting go
of holding on and setting free.

How will you be on your return?
will you race to my embrace
all open-arms and giddiness?
Still the child I recognise.
Or will the weeks apart
have steadied your heart?
Given you sea legs to walk
your own path.

The foam-tossed waters
sail you away from me.
their precious cargo now
hidden from view.

I turn and return to my life left in stasis –
chickens to feed, ewes to shear,
land to tend, hours to spend
casting wistful glances at clocks fairislesheep Hoping that time will somehow zoom
into fast-forward,
bringing you safely back to me.

Rasping shallow breaths come:
I’m panicking.
“I can’t do this. It’s too difficult.
It’s too soon.”
The separation so intense,
I’m breaking.
Disintegrating into disparate shards
then buffering endlessly,
somnambulant,
unable to reconfigure
this new life today.

I wrap both arms around my shattered core
and murmur tenderly, fairisleharbour “One minute, one hour, one day at a time.”
The child in me screams a plaintiff cry
to be gathered up in comforting arms
nestled snugly against Your chest
alive to Your heartbeat
soothing my breath.
Tomorrow will be a better day.

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