‘Letter to my Mother’ by Katrina Naomi

Letter to my Mother

You lie underneath him,
a measure of mud between you.

This was our final argument – his and mine –
your husband/my step-father.

I’m told of a double headstone,
which I haven’t visited,

since I held my niece’s hand,
threw a lily and a tablespoon of chalky soil

on your lid. I can’t talk to you,
knowing he’s also there, listening,

as he always did: the click
of the extension by your bed, the reading

out of my letters and your replies.
All these years, his 17 stones

pressing down on you, crushing
the soil between you.

I talk to you when I cross the Thames,
looking right to Shooters Hill –

Kent’s north edge. I send you my words
in a flotilla of paper boats. I forgive you,

as I always have. I forgive you
for marrying him.

(from The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, Seren, 2016)
Katrina Naomi’s poetry has appeared in The TLS, The Spectator and The Poetry Review, and has been broadcast on Radio 4. Her second collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, is published by Seren (2016), following Hooligans, (Rack Press, 2015), a pamphlet of poetry inspired by the Suffragettes. Katrina has a PhD in creative writing from Goldsmiths. She lives in Cornwall, runs Poetry Surgeries for the Poetry Society, and teaches at Falmouth University and the Poetry School.