Roisín Browne – Mothers in mud fields

Browne LE P&W 4 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.

Mothers in mud fields, story by Roisín Browne.

Mothers in mud fields

‘STAY on the path. Walk upright. Don’t go on the grass. DON’T!’

Military orders delivered in staccato. I look back. Instructions not for me. A mother pointing her Avoca-gloved finger at her confused woolly-hatted toddler. Chaffed cheeks, gappy teeth, penny-wide eyes, he teethers between tarmac and lawn. His blue welly boots sucking on the mud. Gloopy earth lifts between the blades. The grass is slick from pails of rain, delivered last night as we all slept in our beds and cots. Left foot, green, right foot, black, left foot, green, right foot, black.

Mammy shouting, Mammy waving. Wobble straight, wobble left, wobble right.

I look at him balancing in the vastness of this eighteenth century Georgian estate. He has exactly 194 Fingal acres, he is allowed, by the council, to walk on, including forest, to get lost in. She is roaring now as if there are landmines lurking everywhere. I’m impressed with him. I’m almost afraid to veer on the grass myself. He continues doing what toddlers do best, ignores her and toddles on.

There are other mothers here. Dots of them placed across the fat, green, rolling, slices. Early teen sons, exclusively with them. Some hold leads, their dogs mucking, twirling, snouts in ditches. There is talking, trudging, listening, laughing. The mothers in hidden awe, quiet smiles, as these boys will soon outstretch them. The dots rotate, like clock hands, in wet fields. Each muddy step an imprint for future memories. As they soak each other in, conversations tumble out and silent raindrops catch unspoken words.

© Roisin Brown

Roisín Browne lives in Rush, Co Dublin and has been published in A New Ulster, The Galway Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Poetry NI, The Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Flare and Echoes from the Castle Anthology. She was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue Awards in 2018 and shortlisted in The Seventh Annual Bangor Poetry Competition in 2019.

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