Poem // He Stroked His Mother’s Hair

He stroked his mother’s hair
as she lay on the bed,
lost in a fiction, sensate world
of danger,
phobias and betrayals.

She calmed and then he said,
for all the love you gave to me,
I give it back to you in full
but my debt to you
can never be repaid

for you gave me life,
my breath, my substance,
held me when I was afraid,
washed behind my ears
and read to me.

Take it all he said, and yet
he realised for all the love
he could return
there was even more inside
where she had planted it.

He stroked his mother’s hair
and love filled up the room.
He realised there was no debt
as such to be repaid; her love
was always freely given, to him,

the man now considering
a thousand things
he wished he’d said
as he held her hand in prayer.

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