Mothers and Fingers

I really came to see a myriad of connections between mothers and fingers this week when I managed to get a nasty abscess on the index finger of my right hand. I’ve been feeling absolutely lousy with it as the infectious ooze took hold and started to eat into my whole system.

Mother and Me
Mother and Me

The feverishness and pain, especially in the quiet of the night, made me long for my mother’s soothing voice, soft smile, quiet reciting of my favourite poems, loving touch, soft sponging of my brow as well as her urgings to at least try the bread ‘soldiers’ and beef tea that were her ‘invalid’ specials.

Motherhood and fingers are totally connected. That haunting moment when I first counted son Harry’s baby fingers and checked and double checked that there were ten ~ five on each hand. The wonderment at how they could be so, so tiny and so perfectly formed. His whole soft hand gripping just one of my fingers for comfort or to grab my attention.

Fingers Entwined

Even though I have yearned for Mother’s tenderness this week as I’ve fully grasped the role of the index finger in practically every activity of daily life, apart from my typing, I was glad that she didn’t have to endure the initial worry that the infection could get totally out of control.

There seems to come a time when you just have to grow up and spare the person who arguably loves you more unconditionally than anyone else ever can.

The week has also made me realise more forcefully than ever that the tiny baby fingers that I once held are now a strong man’s fingers.

But, as I think about that, I also recall Mother’s emphasis on how wounded soldiers in war want to feel their mother’s hands more than anyone else’s.


Letting Go

The concept of ‘letting go’ is one that has been very much on my mind, of late, but I have been thinking about it in relation to people, memories ~ things human, in other words ~ as opposed to inanimate things.

However, I seem to have been photographing a lot of  abandoned  ‘things’ of late and then today I was leafing through a wonderful collection of Irish Poems, selected by the great Michael Longley.  I was a little shocked, though I shouldn’t have been, to find that I had earmarked this  thought-provoking poem by Michael Coady, who is from Carrick-on-Suir, a town which has a foot in both Co. Tipperary and Co. Waterford.

Letting Go

I love the abandon
of abandoned things
the harmonium surrendering
in a churchyard in Aherlow,
the hearse resigned to nettles
behind a pub in Carna,
the tin dancehall possessed 
by convolvulus in Kerry,
the living room that hosts 
a tree in south Kilkenny.
I sense a rapture
in deserted things
washed-out circus posters
derelict on gables,
lush forgotten sidings
of country railway stations,
bat droppings profligate
on pew and font and lectern,
the wedding dress a dog 
has nosed from a dustbin.
I love the openness
of things no longer viable,
I sense their shameless
slow unbuttoning:
the implicit nakedness
there of the taking,
the surrender to the dance
of breaking and creating.

(Michael Coady included in  20th-Century Irish Poems Selected by Michael Longley, 2002, Faber and Faber:London)

The most recent photograph of an ‘abandoned thing’ that I took was this seat at a falling-down thatched pub on the road between Michael Coady’s  Carrick-on-Suir and my home town of  Tramore. It has been haunting me as I would so love to know about the people who sat on it; the stories and gossip it heard …..

The Old Seat
The Old Seat

I’m beginning to wonder now if we can ever really separate ‘things’ from ‘people.’ What do you reckon?