Your Mother’s tongue
I live 3,464 miles away from my parents house. I didn't intend to be this far, nor do I enjoy being a car-plane-car 14 hour journey from them, but it is ultimately my choice and I’m at peace with that. I think.
Having recently gone to visit, I repeated my now traditional creep into the house, staring down the fixtures old and new, waiting for the house to reject me. Oh phew, the cat breezes by my leg, I can’t possibly have changed that much if this little cutie remembers my smell.
Smell. How interesting it is to smell your childhood home as a visitor. The dusty oak mixed with seaside British air sends the corners of my mouth closer to my ears.
Ears. I can hear the goats outside, the kettle boiling and the pit pat of my Mother’s footsteps as she edges out of the kitchen to greet me. Creaking floorboards compete with the whistling of the kettle. Familiarity seeps into the muscles of my neck and shoulders, lowering them ever so softly, it’s my Mum I see.
See. The blue and white spheres hovering above my nose, hold still on the 5'7 frame that speedily approaches. My sight slightly flickers towards the new grey strand that is tucked behind her ears, it joins the others that were new last time, there’s not much brown left like mine. My sight drops to the fluffy slippers I bought her for Christmas two years back, or was it three? Her short arms embrace me, rapidly engulfing me in love, it’s her warmth and tight squeeze I feel.
Feel. Her touch is measured, precisely holding onto the amount of months it’s been since we last hugged. The guilt filters through the nails on her tips into my spine, swarming to the back of my head. I shiver. My age is reduced by a decade or two, no longer the bird with wings but just a little robin, mouth open waiting for food.
Food. Toast has popped, the burnt kind, the kind my mothers tongue taught mine. The marmite is on the side there’s no need to ask this time. ‘Charles, you’re home’ the pillows of my brain whisper gently into my ears. My hand is pulled, yanked in fact by a huge magnetic force, the fridge is asking, drawing me closer, I open it. ‘Just looking’ Flies out of my mouth, my tongue responding to the inquisition about my hunger that was due from my Mothers tongue. Wine is poured, laughter’s had. I wander to the other room for a tinkle on the ivories, just a tune.
Tune. The piano was in tune, of course it was. The plaques of concerts my Mother played in line the walls in this room, some for the queen, most I didn't see. My siblings aren't home for this trip it isn't very long. Before I know it I am back home where I belong.
Belong. Which is home? I’m always heading to one but coming from one, that’s dumb. I’ll rhyme, it will save some time.
Time. Crossing through Washington square park at 7am, thank you jet lag. I’m holding a tea, a croissant with jam and suddenly wham! A violinist practising Elgar, he can’t be more than 20, that’s what it seems from afar. The light breeze of a summers morning, no humidity yet. Refreshed and tired all at the same moment, so much catching up to do but it’s too early to fret. The blue sky, the tea, the food and Elgar I hear; it’s my Mother’s tongue that takes away my fear. I’ll press on with passion and humility in my life, it’s early but who cares…time to call my work wife.