Read Poem: The Saint Kathleen my Mum by Patricia Poulos

As the sun was rising at 6.15am
on the twenty-second day of December 2017,
this fair beauty of the north and
mother of seven living children
took her last breath.
The laughing of her favourite bird
the Kookaburra
was heralding in a new dawn
to the sweet smell of Gardenia
and the passing
of a Saint-who-did-no-harm.
With love and devotion
it would be her eldest
at her side to the end
the rest busy,
arranging her funeral
whilst she was still fighting to live.
With her hand on the chest of this Saint
the eldest felt the warmth of her body
cool, on the leaving of her soul.
She never complained,
this country-grown lass whose endurance
equalled that of a Trojan even,
when exploited by her own children.
Born the eldest of five
she carried her heavy burden lightly
as she laboured
to maintain her parents’ household
her father absent,
working to provide for his growing family.
Her mother was of aristocratic stock.
At eighteen this beautiful young lass married,
a man sixteen years her senior who
would become, the love of her life.
This blossoming young girl would bear
seven living children, six,
by the age of twenty-six…
“The more the merrier” and
“trying for a football team” would be the response
to enquirers of these little ones.
But life was difficult after World War II.
Sharing someone else’s home during winter
with her first four
encased, in a cold metal coal-shed,
a mere grey blanket over the sharp black coals
another, over her children as she held them
tightly to keep them warm and avoid
the plummeting rain pouring
through the holes in the rusted tin roof.
The carrying of a dead unborn child to full-term,
would set her apart.
This strength of character would see her through
many losses in her ninety-four years.
Her inner beauty masking her age
she would be taken for a sixty-year-old.
On the passing of her beloved husband
she visited The Holy Lands on a Pilgrimage.
She was vulnerable.
For twenty-four years
she lived at the mercy of others
comforted only,
in the knowledge that her eldest,
would always be there… always, at her side.
On Saint Patrick’s Day
she would don her greens and
attend an Irish Pub where she would be treated,
as the princess that she was.
She retained her mental capacity
even in the presence of a frontal lobe tumour
editing movie-scripts.
This beauty,
which The Lord designated to be Our Mum
lay suffering,
at the hands of a government hospital
in which the aged
are scheduled for extermination.
Having lost her ability to speak
this Saint could not object.
Nor, did she complain at being swindled
by her youngest daughter
out of her home entitlement, the address
never revealed.
She rarely smiled yet,
two days before the seizure which led
to her final hospitalization, asleep,
her face was overcome
with a smile as never-before seen.
Her battle now at an end it is her eldest
left with the burden…
Had she done enough?…
Could she have done more?…
Should she have done better?
Dissatisfied with the answers it was she,
who would bear the loss
of this Saint-who-did-no-harm;
this partner-in-crime and best friend,
and upon whom, the burden of deficiencies remain.
But it was the failure of The Holy Spirit to come
to take the Saint
as it had her beloved which haunted the eldest,
only now, accepting, the Aura’s absence
was due to The Holy Spirit
already being within her wonderful mum
and it just needed,
to take her home.

About poetryfest

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