Going Back

My mother is the gap in the windbreak
the fallen macrocarpa
the flooded river and the flooded plain.

The radio, not tuned to any station
the rails removed from a siding
the gash in the mountain’s side.

My mother is the doorway
and the grip of my father’s hand
and the stubble of his cheek on mine.

The missing face in the kitchen
the absent chair at the table
the silence under all we say.

Remembering, unforgetting,
on the edge of sleep in the darkness
my mother is each toss and turn.

The need to leave in the morning
the long goodbye to my father
the driveway and the car I drive.

My mother is the corner
the anxious overtaking
the yellow lines that double in my eyes.

The last lap of the journey
the final tick of the engine
my mother is the road I travel home.

This poem is included in my latest collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens.

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