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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The End Of 'St. Judes'

Yesterday I saw the people who bought my Mom's old house have taken down the wooden 'St. Judes' sign she had tacked to the front wall. She wasn't particularly religious; I remember once she described Dana, who she'd seen at Midnight Mass in Galway Cathedral, as "over religious, that one". Mom just promised herself she'd call the house that if she survived the Hodgkin's Disease which could have killed her in 1977/78; St Jude being the patron saint of 'hopeless cases'. She lived there from February 1979 until Tuesday May 31st 2011, when she died at almost exactly noon. All things come to dust, that bit is true. I remember going out for dinner with her on her 60th Birthday at a restaurant on Quay Street. April 2002. Whatever the weather, it was indeed a day of endless summer

            St. Stephen’s Day, 1977

            for my mother

            Yesterday, in my new football boots I moved
            like Kevin Keegan through the silver afternoon.
            Today, Mull of Kintyre is number one
            and the film director Howard Hawks is dead.
            I take my football boots off,
            am myself again.

           You’re still a skeleton with all day night sweats.
           The doctor, who knows the why of everything
           but this, has given you back for Christmas.
           Most of the turkey goes leathery in the fridge.
           Dad puts the telephone down, tells me
           to extinguish the TV. The doctor
           wants you back three days early.

           Our Ford Cortina cradles you
           through late afternoon streets,
           all those lit windows and wreaths.
           But we don’t see them. And nothing is said
           as we deposit you at Unit Seven,
           Merlin Park Hospital. You at the door
           giving a small pale wave. In the near distance
           the disused boiler’s giant chimney stack.
           The rain saying terrible things
           as we drive off, that Christmas
           you didn’t die.

           KEVIN HIGGINS   
  from Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010)