Family Map

(for Ruth 1914-2013)

Her childhood family was stable,
all in proper positions till death.
Her divorce the first.

Three sons:
three daughters-in-law, all became ex‑in‑laws,
one daughter, not-in-law, still together,
one much later son-in-civil‑law,
nine grandchildren.

One daughter:
one son, in-law eventually,
two grandchildren,
one ex-wife,
two step-grandchildren.

She attended three weddings,
witnessed the divorces,
enjoyed the civil partnership ceremony,
died before further changes to the map.

Her eldest son died,
her beloved son-in-law too,
another partnership broke up……

Now her grandchildren’s turn.



I text from the tram, my e.t.a.* clear.

Full of expectation and excitement,
I walk along the quiet, empty pavement
towards your house.

In the distance, twenty or so semis away,
I see two figures emerge,
your big, solid dad and you,
a tiny dancing figure.

He releases you, turns back into the drive.

I watch you run to me,
straight as an arrow
across the long, vacant space between us,
shouting “Granny, Granny”.

I start to run too,
shouting “Rose, Rose”.

I let go my case, stand,
my arms outstretched,
to scoop you up, whirl you round.

Your voice chattering beside me,
we walk hand in hand,
to join your mum, dad and baby brother,
your family.

* expected time of arrival


Letting the Love In

From her floral armchair in the home,
my shrinking mother pumped
so much love into me,
that I became taut,
strongly buoyant at last.

A sturdy craft weathering storms,
keeping safe on tossing seas,
endlessly righting myself,
floating on.

Open always to the sky above.


Surviving Twin

for Rhon’s twin sisters

She wasn’t there.

She was, in that she housed them,
fed them, kept them warm, safe,
her belly stretching to their needs.

But inside, they were together,
closely wrapped, tight space.

More bonded than she could
later ever be, with either.

Who knows what pacts they made.

Who to die, who to live.