Mother

Where were you Mother when I needed you?
Where were you when your bastard son was just born
And craved the warmth of your breast,
And the nourishment of your life fluid?
Did you not feed me, Mother, even once?
I canít remember if you did,
But if you didnít, surely you held me in your arms
And stared down into my small dark face 
And loved me for a while?


Did you tell my Father about me?
And if he knew, did he care?
Was he there
When you gave birth to me?
Did he hold me?
Or did he not know me?
Or not want to?
Did he know you?


I didnít know, Mother, at first, 
But I was told at an early age,
And when I was told, I knew,
And when I knew, I understood,
And later, I cared.


All through my teens I thought about you fleetingly,
You, and my Father,
Whoever he may have been,
But later, I cared,
I cared deeply.


I went to St. Catherineís House, 
And bought a full certificate,
I looked up my birth in the register;
I was counselled,
But given little encouragement,
And what little hope I had, faded
As I chased your ghost through dusty archives,
And through the backstreets of South East London.


The old man who may have been your landlord
Remembered a girl with a bicycle,
But was it you?
There were other girls,
Many girls, 
And he was retired, and his mind not 
As retentive as it had once been.
But Iím fairly certain he knew you,
Though I never knew you, Mother, 
I never had a chance to.


Where did you come from, Mother?
And where did you disappear to
After youíd dumped this supposedly intelligent but unloved,
Unlovable human being 
In an East London nursing home?


Why didnít you love me, Mother?
Or if you did why for such a short time?
Did you know even then what Iíd turn out like? 
Or were you, like your unwanted son, no damn good?
I donít know the answers to any of these questions, Mother,
Maybe I never will know them,
Like in all probability I will never know you.

Back To Poetry Index