Big thank you from

MY MOTHER by Eithne Hamill

Her large, reassuring hand settles on my brow Feeling for the first sign of fever.
It was made for hard work, squat and strong; A big, hefty hand that protected each one Of the precious brood she had safely shaped And brought to this harsh place.

The kitchen was her quarter, her dungeon.
Here she worked readily;
Face flushed, thin, dank hair clinging to her neck In the oppressive heat.
Big, black pots boiling,
Hissing and spitting on the gas rings,
bubbling over.

Windows streaming with condensation;
The comforting smell of potatoes drifting out, A sure sign that the meal was nearly ready.
Her large frame darting from stove to table The family, like demanding chicks, waiting.
No help demanded, none given.

She could cup a tiny infant in her two big palms; Her strength and its fragility an unlikely alliance.
Gathering the tiny mite up she would
Gently place it over her shoulder;
A life force clinging like a limpet to a boulder, The big hand completely covering a minute back.
Soothing and humming, patting rhythmically.

A little head nodding,
Eyes contentedly closing
Safe and swaddled in the warmth
Of this mortal cocoon