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Song for my mother
By Erica Hesketh

青い青いお空です / What a blue blue sky

雲がポッカリ浮いていて / With fluffy clouds drifting

太陽ギラギラ照りつける / And the sun beaming bright

高い富士山も見てるだろう / I bet Mt Fuji is looking down too

Suddenly I see her, aged four. There is an alice band in her hair, a summer breeze, and as she pushes off with her red sandals the swing climbs higher, higher…


A brand-new song. When her brother comes home she will sing it to him. From the highest point on the swing she can see Fuji-san, distant and familiar. All she wants in the world is to mean something to the people she loves, to be held tight and cherished.


Six decades later, her daughter and granddaughter are listening on FaceTime. It is morning where we are; there are porridge stains on our pyjamas and the puzzles are already out of their tin. Outside my mother’s window the sky is dark as it always is. On a June day in our imaginations the brand-new song floats towards the clouds…


What it takes for her to offer it to us, a century egg in its shell. She needs us to handle it with love, but we can’t even open it at first – we don’t speak her language. N’s attention wanders; she knows this is important but she is very busy just now, writing her own story. As for me, the threads of my heart are stretching but there has been so much hurt, so much water. It is not easy to greet my mother as the child she once was.


That final line – was it だろう, confident, brash even, or was it かな, delicate and open-ended? She can’t remember now which of these she used to be. We are trying to glimpse her through such a little window.


I prop the phone up against a book to improvise a circle. What else can we do but sing it over and over until it becomes a part of us. We point to the clouds, make sunbursts with our fingers, raise our arms to form the mountain above our heads.

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