The closest, Mother, we have been in years
was a night drive back from Achill on our own.
Our tyres pressed their smooth cheeks to the ice,
gripping nothing, squealing, barely holding on.
Something stepped into our beam and stood there,
dumbly, ready to confront its death.
I remember your right hand in the darkness —
a white bird frightened from its fastness
in your lap, bracing yourself for the impact,
hearing you whisper ‘Jesus’ under your breath,
preparing your soul for the moment of death.
Then, just as suddenly, nothing happened —
the sheep stepped back into the verge
for no reason, attracted by a clump of grass.
For days I felt the pressure of your hand on mine.
You would’ve led me to the next world, Mother, like a child.