You sit in faded armchair crumpled like a fallen leaf
Half sleeping to the distant babble of Neighbours, Casualty, Eastenders
A Catherine Cookson novel unopened by your side…

Who knows what swirling dreams play out beneath your fluttering eyelids,
what passions seethe beneath your Oxfam pinny?

Yes, in your dreams you are Amelia Earhart,
flying figure eights across the sky
…upside down 
Or perhaps a French Resistance fighter,
creeping through a secret tunnel,
…pistol flashing 
Or a deep sea diver,
plumbing the depths of unknown seas,
…battling an octopus

Oh, I have seen those photos of you proud in your youth
and if anyone could battle an octopus you could.

Your talent not in mothering but in climbing Everest solo,
(with only a flask of tea and a digestive biscuit for sustenance, and only then if you had the right colour 
lipstick)

not in washing up but in stalking tigers in the deepest jungle,
(but only with your camera, of course, and only then if the tiger agreed to have his fur brushed into place
before you took his picture)

not in growing old but in performing dangerous stunts on the high trapeze 
…in a sequined leotard
(but only if the seams were properly sewn, of course, and only then if the colour of the sequins matched 
your eyes)

But you do have a talent for shopping…and for ‘unusual’ cooking
…I remember childhood days of pink Yorkshire Pudding.

Oh I have seen those photos of you proud in your youth
and if anyone could brush a tiger’s fur you could.

Yes, in your dreams you are Amelia Earhart,
mysterious and wild 
Or perhaps a suffragette, dramatic in her green and purple,
…chained to a railing
(but only if politics was more glamorous, of course, and only then if you didn’t have to bother with all that
silly voting)

Or a beauty queen, in gold lamé, gliding down the catwalk
… red roses strewn at your feet
(but only if you had approval on the photos, of course, and only then if they let you keep the dress)

Oh I have seen those photos of you proud in your youth
and if anyone could be a beauty queen you could. 

Oh I have seen those photos of you proud in your youth
and if anyone would be glad to have a mother like you…..I am

Jacqui Woodward-Smith, 3rd September 2004

Dedicated to Margaret Jean Smith (nee Woodward), my mother, and a woman of rare, or not so rare, qualities.