My mother is dying.
Time has run out for us, for her.
Hard to know if telling her I love her
yet one more time, a habit I discovered late
makes a difference.
Perhaps a little.
She turns my words over in her hand
as foreign coins
she has been told have value
that she does not really recognise.
Her generation, a woman of her class,
didn’t use that word love
that was for actresses, Hollywood
My mother rationed it like electricity, food
enemies had to be beaten, bombs avoided
fires put out
Love would be shown
in a more practical way
through duty, service.
To cook, clean, breastfeed
that became the point, what mattered most
It was unpatriotic, indulgent to talk of love
when it was obvious
in the accumulation of things, repeated