Image by Caroline Forbes

Dinner with my Mother

Hugo Williams

Dinner with my Mother

Hugo Williams

Poem introduction

This poem's 'Dinner with my Mother' - I used to go and stay with her in Portugal, down in the Algarve every year and she would make me lovely meals. And this makes me feel slightly sad because it mentions a kind of mannerism she had when she was cooking. She died a while back.

Dinner with my Mother

Dinner with My Mother

My mother is saying 'Now'.
'Now,' she says, taking down a saucepan,
putting it on the stove.
She doesn't say anything else for a while,

so that time passes slowly, on the simmer,
until it is 'Now' again
as she hammers out our steaks
for Steak Diane.

I have to be on hand at times like this
for table-laying,
drink replenishment
and general conversational encouragement,

but I am getting hungry
and there is nowhere to sit down.
'Now,' I say, making a point
of opening a bottle of wine.

My mother isn't listening.
She's miles away,
testing the sauce with a spoon,
narrowing her eyes through the steam.

'Now,' she says very slowly, meaning
which is it to be,
the rosemary or the tarragon vinegar
for the salad dressing?

I hold my breath, lest anything
should go wrong at the last minute.
But now it is really 'Now',
our time to sit and eat.

from Collected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2005), copyright © Hugo Williams 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Books by Hugo Williams