It was, I remember
In the kitchen
In uneasy domesticity: she
And me, eleven.
The day was June,
Or something like;
Bleaching the yard-wall copings
Bright and brittle.
Pinnied and sud-handed
Drying her fingers one by one;
Folded the towel and laid it down
Like an offering.
And so we were –
Separated by a kitchen table.
‘You,’ she said, ‘will never be like them,
Never play their games or run with them,
Never be flares and platforms, mop-headed fashion-boy, knit-collar car-coat,
Her still-damp palm flatted her forehead,
Measuring her words’ temperature,
Holding in memory.
‘I know this,’ she said, ‘for it was so for me.
And we are one alike, you and I.’
Spreading to fill the space between us.
The clock I saw had stopped.
‘No. You,’ she said,
‘You will never be ‘one-of-us’.’
Words that to me, eleven,
Sounded an acid-drop curse.
‘No no don’t say don’t say,’ I said: no - thought, not said.
‘No, you will never be never ‘one-of-us’.’
Words’ sound dropped – salt and acid -
On a June day,
Or something like.
And now, with her and me
Separated by a kitchen table and forty years