The look

There's a certain look that tears at my heart every time
evokes in me a desperate need to reassure, to stand alongside
it's that vulnerable expression speaking of the fear of rejection
a fear so many of us have and one I share wholeheartedly

So when I saw that look recently unexpectedly upon your face
I was torn by a need to keep my distance yet also draw near
you taught me I must learn to conceal my emotions like a weakness
that crying was an activity to be confined to solitary privacy

For too many years you have shown little care for my fears
creating a false note in every interaction, refining the act
and having learnt to act my part I must now shed the mask
show my hand at last, but there is no succour, no triumphalism

However many unresolved issues of anger there are between us
where there is need I feel the need to help, to comfort even
but breaking down the barriers between us, learning a new honesty
I have to say I do find the prospect of doing this quite scary

For I risk that feeling again but with a much increased intensity
knowing I have never been the daughter you would have wished for
never been made of the right stuff, too weak, too emotional
too prone to tears, to saying how I feel, to telling the truth

Perhaps it's easier to tell yourself these things than to see
that we are very similar we two, experience carving the difference
creating the schism ... the mirror is such an uncomfortable place
yet for me there is some comfort in seeing you in my reflection

I have learnt to curb my behaviour when I'm with you, act the part
speak more carefully, choose my words, avoid upset at all costs
but the sands of time are shifting and fracturing the game
we may have to learn new rules, new ways to be around each other

Until I met my gentle man, I had no idea how it felt to be safe
to be cared for, to know that with all my faults I am loved
your withdrawal from all the chaos and hurt during our childhood
left no room for the simple acts of love, a gentle word, a hug

Lost to us in your own world, protecting yourself, shutting us out
I wished I'd known then what I do now about the dark clouds
about the despair and fear you felt, the need for any escape
the deep lasting hurt that even now has such a strong hold on you

Did you think I wouldn't understand, that the passage of years
wouldn't at some stage awaken in me some measure of wisdom
some degree of compassion for a woman in such desperate straits
that survival depended on a willingness to shut everything out

For all we never speak of it, I love you still, as you do me
and I suspect that these shifting sands scare you more than I
to admit to the need for help is a hard thing to learn years on
another part of coming to terms with the late autumn of your life

With age comes fear, bred from seeing your growing undeniable frailty
an understanding that there will soon be the question of dependence
will you be able to depend on a daughter whose faults are clear to see
I wonder if you feel undeserving of care, having cared so little

No that's not right, it's not a lack of care on your part is it?
more an inability to unwind enough to speak this foreign language
a fear that you've left it years too late to start all over again
and that's mostly my fault, I should have never bought into the act

I should have started years ago to show you the person I am now
should have led the way, hugged you, said words despite your unease
caused upset, shown my emotions, taught you this foreign tongue
I should have done everything to stop you having to give me that look.


  1. How is it so, that mothers do not always have the hearts of mothers? And yet it is, time and time again. Perhaps we expect too much from our mothers? Perhaps we expect to be alike. Perhaps I am creating fissures with my children without intent. It's all so confusing, parenthood. It's no easy charge for any one of us, after all, we are only people.

    Yes, teach her of you. You are of value, a lesson well learned even in her autumn years.

    Gorgeous writing.

  2. As a person who sees her mother as pretty much a lost cause, I totally feel your words here.
    Maybe I'm the lost cause however, and my fault is that I wanted to keep myself from her, as a strange punishment, to not let her know who I really was...until she went out and showed the world what she could be.
    I came here from WIAW...absolutely enjoyed it.