Umbilical Words

Dear Mum,

I hope you have read my letter. The other one. The proper one. The one I could not write, because it cannot be written. Couched in an idiom only you and I understand. A mother tongue. Umbilical words that bind us for ever and ever. You alone can hear me mouth them.

Of the pain of being parted from you as a child, it says nothing, not least because that always went without saying. Being separated made us inseparable. In the other letter, this unspeakable pain speaks, though not in so many words. You alone can hear its mute howl. Mum’s the word.

For years, I could not sleep facing a wall. I had to face the door, through which I would be reunited with you. Returning for the holidays was always a homecoming. Even as an adult. I once spent my lunch break at Gare du Nord, simply to feel a little closer to you. Watching all those people boarding trains bound for my mother’s land.

You are my motherland. The only time I tried to tell you, on that warm summer night, you said I was drunk. That was by the potted olive tree.

As soon as I heard you were going, I caught the first train, but did not make it on time. I hope you sensed that I was on my way. That I was coming home to you.

You were already so cold when I kissed your forehead. Stone cold.

We always fail to talk about what we love. Someone else wrote that.

You dwell in me, just as I once dwelt in you. Someone else wrote that too.

Perhaps they were drunk.

Your son, who always loved you more than you could ever know,


4 thoughts on “Umbilical Words

  1. This is very beautiful. I lost my mother last July. Within a week and a half my father also died and my vest friend took her own life September 1. So within two months, three of the most important people in my life were gone. I have written and published a piece for my friend, Written and reworked something for my father, but for my mother, not a word has been set to paper. I am not certain if that is because we were so close that no words are required, or because they are bound so deeply that they cannot yet be unearthed.

    I love the title you have chosen. Umbilical words. It is perfect.

  2. I’m so sorry for your losses.
    In my case, alluding to what cannot be expressed was all I could express.
    Thanks for the kind words.

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