To the kid:
I’m going to know everything about birds
by the time you are born.
but a great deal—more than I know now
I’ll know all the ones that
visit our garden
so that I can tell you what they are
long before you can talk
what a ball is, or what yellow is
so far the count is:
pigeons, plenty of black birds, male
this morning; a pair of collared doves.
I found them in the book
liquorice shapes, black on their necks
I swept up the needles and the dried up leaves
assembled a bird table from bits
smelled deliciously of sweat
had raced to the Garden Centre
in the April heat-wave
and hoped that
birds would come.
On another morning that we feared
you might be within touching distance—of the end of your life
I rode the Bakerloo line
to see its velvet brown stripe.
At the evening class
I put you ‘in the chair’—
unsure if at the time of writing
you were even still here
and if not then—a ghost
who must pick out her favourite clothes
but who gets to choose—
me, or you?
I would have you at half-term
and springy on your heels
brushing the steps and answering the phone
quick with your pen
to make a dark mark
who broke the nose clean off your shepherdess ornament.
you looked at me from the landing
in your silk skirts for dancing
and black in your eyes.
and sulked all the way to London
the staircase at the back of the train station
made it a shorter walk
for the train to Marylebone
then the underground
to Oxford Circus.
you, and Mum
and the three of us.
but I hated the short cut.
the steps were far too steep.
JESS MORGAN is currently studying for her MA in Creative Non-Fiction at the University of East Anglia (UK). She has previously written for Oh Comely and Make magazines. Jess also edits and designs a punk zine dedicated to Flash Non-fiction called 'Extra Safe.' Twitter: @jessmorgan.