Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet and playwright often called “the greatest poet of our age” won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.
In this excerpt from the wonderful poem about his mother, “In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984” he muses on how doing together the simplest everyday necessities can foster an unparalleled closeness:
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.”
He ends by observing the “heft and hush” of the world without her, how when people die, you feel above all the presence of their absence:
A soul ramifying and forever
Silent, beyond silence listened for.”
Happy Mother’s Day to our mothers, present in whatever form, always there, no matter how or where.