(for my son)
You were sweet, bolshie, and two.
I was betrayed, broken, broke.
Reckless, we’d spent three pounds that week
at Oxfam, on a children’s tea-set:
pink and green plastic, weird fat teapot
shaped like a cabbage, as if the makers
had nurtured a subliminal plan
to get children to eat their greens.
For a kitchen, an upturned apple crate,
paper circles for hobs, a square for a table.
I sat watching you play. You hummed to yourself.
Frère Jacques – you could sing rounds even then.
I looked at you, so small,
with that tune in your mouth, and I
bowed my head and cried for all
that had gone wrong, the years and years of it.
Your hand on my knee. Mummy, you said,
looking up, balancing a candy-pink cup
carefully, on a saucer not quite the right size:
It’s all right, I’ve made you some tea.