My Mother’s Return

by Lucy Thynne

At last / she turned around / into the Arrivals gate / at Terminal 5 / and I counted the seconds it took / for her eyes to find us / the time / I took to recognise her myself / browned / new smells hugging to flesh. / Only a week / but she laughed / at how tall we’d gotten, / commanded my sister & I / back to back. / I was still taller / she said / but whispered that / it wasn’t by much. / Spoke in a voice / I could make full rooms from / gentle, / held our cheeks / by tired hands. / As if by some need / to touch what was her own, / smiling, / like it was something / she was surprised at herself for. / I stared back / wondered what my mother saw / in each stretched absence. / If that night / she would dream of children / with swollen stomachs / and empty hands, / if she would always measure / what had been lost / by the difference / in her daughters’ spines. / Eventually, / with fingers gripped tight between us / we drove through the evening, / & I thought about / what had been broken / in my mother, / how fast / I could make it whole