The drive is long and the country lanes narrow,
but my mother is fit for the journey. Knowing the roads well,
she rounds each blind bend, sees each cat’s-eye gleam
and follows it, able to tell when the road is wide enough
for two vehicles, when it is not. Bean to Betsham,
Southfleet to Highcross, we breathe in as cars pass.
While we travel, I watch the conversation
happening on her face as I have watched
her a thousand times on morning school runs,
weekend trips. Like infants make sense of the world
at night, asleep in their cots, so my mother
makes sense of things when she drives.
I wonder from the passenger seat
at the words in her head something has stopped
her from speaking. What has occurred in her world
that she could not say aloud? I think how good
it is to see her face in all its forms, frowns,
smiles and expressions I have not seen for weeks,
how sad it is she never saw her mother
make this carousel of faces, that her mother never drove
but was always driven. She did not have these moments
of silent talk, of prayer. Instead she sewed,
placed a thimble on her finger and stitched threads
straight as A roads, regular as road markings.
What thoughts she had in the hook and loop
of those seams, she could handle a needle
the same way my mother takes the wheel.
See where she has driven me now; almost home,
we two together in the car, navigating the lanes,
the mother’s face, the purpose of the journey.