Project Description


To replace the man who gave you my half-brother, James,
When you were just sixteen,
You chose handsome Bob, back from National Service
In Indian Doolali.
A few years on, my brother, Mark, then four years later,
I asked you once how many you’d wanted, you’d said,
“Two or three”.
I wonder when they said, “A girl”, whether you’d had cause
To fear
That he’d soon be craving my young flesh as much
As he did yours.
You birthed me, bathed me, fed me from your breasts.
You fastened Vick-soaked socks round my sore throats.
You soothed my scraped knees with butter and let me lick the bowl.
You took me shopping, Chinese for lunch, I loved those Saturdays.

And yet.
You knew.
You knew.
And you did not protect me
From him.
You even said to go to him, as I sought to hide.
You brought that other into my room;
Packed my bag to stay with a third;
Gave me a note from a man from Norwich.
Gave me a bowl when I felt sick, after my third abortion.

What were you thinking?
Why didn’t you hear
My tummy aches, headaches, sore throats and
Silent screams?

You cut me off, excluded me, denied my very existence.
And when you died, you
Denied me the right
To ask you,

You let me down, mum.
Your choice was wrong.
You should have put me first,
Not him.

I’ll never forgive you.
I’ll never understand.
I’ll always

Know, though, that I am healed,
That, despite your lack of love and care,
I am proud of who I am.


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