I taught my babies to coo
shaped pudgy mouths
to cry at their widening world.
I imparted RP speak
declined dastardly Latin
and conjugated schoolboy French
rrrrollled my R's in provincial Castellian
dropped an haitch or two
for authentic East End jive.
Till my chicks flew the coop
taking all my words away
to string up their own sweet songs.
And I sat counting mommy blessings
in silence, but for the tick-clickety-tock
of a metronome still waving goodbye.
I taught me to grease my house
with elbows and heart;
to scrub proudly till shiny
birthdays and anniversaries
buff lost baby teeth
gloss faithless first loves
unsmear work-widowed weekends
and polish spot tests and summer hols.
So Home glowed with promises fulfilled
like it says on the tin that was me.
I delivered hot meals in cold winter,
cold snacks in the swelter of July
fish fingered feasts for unexpected armies
and spoonfuls of sugar to make
measle medicines go down.
Till the siren calls of university days,
first jobs, and a parting of ways
drew a line underneath all
that was continuous past imperfect.
And I sat counting highrise towers
of movers boxes in emptying rooms
finger walls robbed of photographs
listen as memories richochet
along dull grey corridors.
I taught everyone watching
my high art of flying solo;
disarmed with the charm of dining alone
without hiding in pretend mobile texts
or prizewinning heavyweight tomes.
My new daring-do days spilled
with their fill of reason and rhyme:
leaps from a plane at 13,000 feet
to rob undeserving rich
for cash-strapped poor.
I brought all that could fraught:
stinging tears of guilt
for stilted egos till they tumbled
crumbling human hypocrisy.
And I sat counting shot glasses
piled high like so many ivory towers
hid my shame in my old maiden name
and warmed cold feet against a hearth
that was not - by any description - home.