I am the oldest of four girls,
And four girls can be a crowd.
Time alone with Mother was the stuff of wishes.
One morning I awoke early and realized:
My sisters are still asleep!
There was a faint rattle of cutlery.
And Mummy is down in the kitchen by herself!
I slithered out of bed and crept down the stairs
Masterfully negotiating the squeaks
Hardly believing my good luck.
Mummy was alone,
Sitting in the sunlight, her elbows propped
On the table already set for four hungry children
With strawberry jam in a cut-glass bowl
And vivid little rainbows on the cloth.
Her shiny black hair was pinned in a thick scroll
At the back, with a sneaky wisp escaped over her ear.
Her bending neck was white, and graceful
Her gown a little open over her leaning breasts -
Almost not quite ‘Mother’.
‘I can still hear the sonorous gurgle of the percolator
Smell the pungent coffee
See the steam from her rosebud cup as she sips
The thin porcelain just touching her lips.
She is absorbed in the magazine spread out before her
Enjoying the large glossy pictures, reading their captions.
I cannot believe my good luck.
I pray to God that my sisters will stay asleep
Please – please - for ten minutes more.
I want this time!’
How my quiet mother must have stifled a sigh
When she saw me, eyes agog with anticipation.
But she only smiled and said, ‘Good morning, Honey.’
She poured a glass of juice inviting me to sit with her
And right away I started chattering about my funny dream.
She put her magazine aside, drank her cooling coffee,
Listened and laughed with me in all the right places.
I didn’t know then that ten minutes could be so many things.
Now, I am a mother. And I remember that day.
So - I, too, smile and say: ‘Good morning, Honey.’