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The Past

by Sarah Frost


What were you thinking, mother
When you handed me the slim rectangular package
containing a watch, for my tenth birthday
as I came to your bed that lonely winter morning?

I was mute with my longing for your love –
You, a distant angel, in buttoned-up Victorian nighty
Dim morning light yellowing the pulled blind.

The quiet of that first house
echoes in me now, the time between an empty ache.

Later that day you would listen to Mahler’s Songs of the Earth
Music heavy as a bowl of stones resting on a table
Covering the record sleeve, Monet’s field of crimson poppies
My father’s first gift of music to you.

In the deep recesses of memory
You and I lodge
The years billowing back
Like soft muslin curtains

To show the garden of the soul
The verdant tree of childhood still standing
The flagstones of my person
Laid down, flooring me.