Put Your Mother on the Mantel

so you can remember her when you come home from work
each morning each evening there is more work
and if all you do is driven by the need to pay
for your survival and the fuel to get there and back
then when will your head fall heavily like those
who came before you on the marble on the mantel into ashes
cold ashes in metal urns cold echoes gathering dust
and when will your face release armour in staff meetings
at the tennis club at the AA meeting when when when
my dear friend will it happen for you at ten at sixteen
at eighty-seven and sixty-three days when you cut the cake
and touch the bottom then your wish will not become real
like that time you waited at the bus stop and no-one came
in fact she was supposed to come along but she was working
and when you arrived at home through the door and saw
that she was sitting at the kitchen table reading a magazine
probably edited by Ita Buttrose or another type of woman
who always had her nails done and you dropped your bag
on the floor and wiped the sweat from your cheeks
and said hi and she asked what you wanted for dinner
and all you could say was nothing.

But what do you really want?

Now you are the mother and you have a daughter
you have to learn to deal with these tricky people
the ones who are takers and will take until you say stop
so your daughter can see your face in the daylight and you work
until seven thirty until midnight until three
in the f*cking morning because there is so much work to do
that you will be working until you die at work.

So make a spreadsheet and pick your special kind of failure :

  1. Your daughter puts you on the mantel and her chest twinges
    like an ill-tuned guitar when she spies you sitting there.
  2. She sets her alarm for the same time each morning to get up
    for work until she and her daughter and her daughter’s daughter
    gather on the mantel beside you.

You know and she knows and everybody knows
you were born to fail.
There is no gold watch big or fat enough
that will satisfy the exchange of time.