Shadow Dances

There is a spot on the Campsie Hills where she lies
unvisited mostly, but not unwanted: this her own wish.
She could see these hills from the hospice window
imagining there the shadow dances of her small children.
The children were more dependent than they knew
for she was their carer, lifeblood and ultimate salvation.

A one parent family before the phrase was coined,
though the children’s father lodged in the same house
but he may as well have been at sea, his only true love.
She, often strong and weak in unequal measures,
responded to their needs whilst neglecting her own.
He, an archetypal Scotsman, liked a drink and to think
that he was somehow in charge of their shared destiny.

Uneducated and slow to catch the drift of conversation
she armed herself with humour and a love of music.
Like most families not everyone would see eye to eye
and those fallouts would lead to periods of isolation.
When he died she started to live her own life deciding,
for the first time, what she wanted from her remaining years.

She grieved for him as the man she fell in love with,
not the man that he became. Missing his presence.
For twenty years she managed to create a better life
for herself, full of friends and family in days, lived day to day.
She lost many of her children at birth but was stoic in the
face of adversity. This was the history of women of that time.

Illnesses and major operations were always part of her life.
She thought she would go on forever, and she has.

poem © copyright Brian Shirra 2014


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