Sarahsouthwest from dVerse poets pub suggested a Tuesday poem about one of the Four Elements.
Elements that I know in the Wheel of the Year as ‘Earth in the north, Air in the east, Fire in the south and Water in the west’
I knew exactly what poem I had to share, so as not to follow the rules too closely.
Earth and Water, released by Fire (whether of combustion or respiration) into the Air.
I had to broadcast to you, readers, ‘my mother’s molecules’, just as they were from a crematorium chimney in north Wales in early November 1986, after her untimely death from breast cancer aged 69. Only nine years after her first-born, my sister Carole, died aged 38 from cancer that had probably had its roots in the breast cancer for which she had been treated at University Hospital in Cardiff in 1974.
My mother however had not accepted medical treatment, relying instead on spiritual healing (she was an adherent of Christian Science, the religious affiliation in which I was raised). She asked us not to disclose her illness and dying to her friends.
It was massively difficult for me to break the news of her death to people who had admired and loved her, and were puzzled and angry that she had maintained a wall of privacy and secrecy, A wall which as the youngest daughter – last one to fledge – I had previously experienced at home, the most recently.
I am still living with the psychological fallout of that time, and that is why I chose to be so open about my own diagnosis and surgery earlier this year.
And perhaps why I am struggling to maintain a mature approach to self-advocacy over my ongoing treatment. Healing, at all levels – somatic, emotional, psychic – is a complicated process, especially when the role-modelling in childhood and early adulthood has been so complex.
Here then: ‘My mother’s molecules’, written in the 1990s when my father Eric had died too, and we (my mini-family of me in my forties, my singleton child, my husband) were living on the northeast coast of England, close to the North Sea at Druridge Bay, which is referenced in the third stanz
My mother's molecules Two months after the funeral we stand by the sea at Rhyl without her. Concrete walls restrain us; the steps and sand and clutter are far below. My mothers’ molecules have moved from her cremated body into the barometric sky, and have rained down, into the darkening sea. They murmur, roll and peal upon the sand. I’m glad to see her part of this; can be alongside now, without the careful dialogue. Seven years pass, and my conversation is - at last - with myself. Reaching the edge of Druridge dunes, I stand, then kick-run, chaotic, to the flat shelf of the moister sand. I’m not the woman I once was. My atoms come and go; I feed, I breathe... I trickle out into the waterways that reach the sea. I look out, over, vastly; review myself across the water; see whoever I once was, mingling (as round the globe the seas all meet) with my mother’s molecules. © Kathy Labrum McVittie 1993