Hansel’s Way

1 May 2014

for Lisa J

1
‘Breast?’
Birthday boy, Hansel (milk-coloured, three),
lisped his request, hardly refused before then.
But it seemed the world was turning

on me – and my walking, talking suckling.
‘Will you breastfeed on his buck’s night?’
Jack’s mum pretended support, pretended
polite, as the play-group Gerties giggled.
Cows!

I burned, long after
the candles were spat on. Party over,
I poured myself into my bra
and Hansel forgot his attachment.

2
Look at him: lanky.
I can’t remember his last
laughing leap into my arms.
Had I known that moment
contained a final armful of boy
I’d have held on longer.

3
The not in my throat, thick and growing,
squeezes words from the knot in my neck.
I say, ‘How will you know your way back?’

Hansel flashes his fourteen-year-old smile
and laughs as he shows me a new bread roll.
He says, ‘Worry not, Mother! No need
to remember. I’m laying a trail.’

He sees the sky sunny; I see it grey
with seagulls and sparrows
whose insides are hollow.

The worry-knot in my chest finds its rhythm.

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