Here are my boys,

walking away,

in their own world

of words I do not understand.

 

Where I used to lead,

I follow,

whistful, watching,

distanced from the world they march into.

 

Then the eldest carries on walking,

until he leaves home

and

I am left floating in rivers

crying,

empty

adrift

alone.

 

There are spaces

where there used to be trainers,

coats,

books.

The washing machine rests more

the fridge stays full.

There is an empty place at the table,

Once again, I am the last one to bed.

 

When a child leaves home of course we parents are

proud of them,

excited for them,

know it is the right and natural thing,

this much is spoken of,

acknowedged,

there are words of new beginnings,

excitement,

congratulations,

jolly good,

shoulder slapping

he’s off into the world.

 

Yet what no one speaks of is the ending

for him

for this brother

his fathers

and for me.

On this there is silence

only the moon can hear.

Yet it is visceral,

palpable.

 

Labour is intense,

Heart contractions now

when once they were womb,

knowing that the only way out of the pain

is through.

 

The waters break,

tears

join

sun stroked streams.

 

I baptise myself,

thrice

in the waterfall ice,

birthing not just he,

as a man

but me

as a new self.

 

I duck myself once to release him

Twice to send him into the world well

thrice with wishes for friends and love to attend him

wherever his feet fall.

 

Then I float myself,

body burning

with iron cold water

birthing

into something new,

mysterious,

unformed,

unsure,

grateful to have shared this walk with him for so long.

 

Shivering,

naked,

I strip,

dry,

dress.

clean,

cold.

I walk back to meet him where he has waited,

tolerant,

we stroll once more

timelessly

past blackberries and puddles

back to the car.

 

No one tells you when you give birth to a baby

you give birth to yourself as a mother.

 

No one tells you when your child leaves homes,

that you birth them again into adulthood

and yourself something new and unknown.