Mother and Dead Son

By | 1 July 2009

(Inspired by 'A monument to war', sculpture by Kathe Kollwitz, Berlin)
 
 

i.
 

He'd hated her old handbag

and how she carried it.

He'd idle behind,

watching her shoulders

move solidly through public streets

carrying the bag

he'd given her in childhood.

 

He then learnt to walk in front,

cursing slowness

and memory

and the impossibility of being man and son,

so he chose man

and avoided her gaze,

but at night stayed awake

in ease of darkness

to hear her private singing from the bathroom:

her smooth notes skimming water

to steal under closed doors

then find him, open-eyed and loving.

 
 

ii.

 

One thousand degree fires turned solid bronze to liquid

which, bubbling and thick with resistance,

was emptied into Kollwitz's mould

then clasped shut,

left still,

for airless weeks.

 

Bronze settled, quietened and cooled

to this:

 

a grown man

enfolded in his mother's full embrace

 

his head angled backwards,

smooth neck reflecting the sky,

long legs spilling effortlessly

to the angry earth.

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