‘The Women’ by Martin Lewis

He’d always been his mammy’s boy,
So when she died he was devastated.
During her last year or so
She became increasingly detached
From dull, sublunary here and now,
Though still always tender to both her men –
Adoring and dependent son and husband –
Until finally, bedridden, she had waited,
No sustenance or medicine accepting,
Just staring at the window: the spring trees
Sprouting in the windy urban hospital yard,
And the tiny crystal crucifix hung there,
Sparkling with sunlight like her sky bright eyes.
Now he keeps her photograph on his tallboy,
Next to a picture of the Virgin and Child.
Once he heard that departed souls remain,
Sometimes, until those left behind are ready
To let them leave, and pass to the hereafter,
So he decided to perform a sort of séance
To ask her if she was still there for him.
But no! She had not lingered – she was gone,
Long gone before to whatever there may be.
He felt like an abandoned child then, betrayed.
If, at that moment, he could have left
Himself behind, and looked into the picture
Of Mother Mary, he would have seen, faintly,
His own mammy taking tea and cake with her,
And saying, without spite or anger,
“Ah the men, God bless and keep them, so!”
Then, leaning close and sotto voce,
“But the peace – oh the peace and lightness
To be free of them at the last!”
And the two women almost giggling
Like schoolgirls sharing an awful secret.

sent to us by Martin Lewis
from La Roques sur Pernes (Provence), 2010

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