A rhythm of a day...

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Public Domain

Mum’s gone to work.

I drink tea and vitamin water

by the window

and read a book:

What It Means To Be a Daughter

reading a good line,

I feel it all on me –

sometimes, what you hate about your mother is just what you hate about yourself

Everything is a different colour when I open my eyes

like the oily pool where my imagination lies

Outside, smoking, with everything at ease

I listen to the trees

like I listen to my sister, shouting,

through the wall on my knees


It’s dull when I stamp on the floorboards

As dull as my aunt who calls me ‘hers’

giving me her old records.

It’s quiet and I’m alone

it’s almost half-three

So I login to my computer, where

my driving instructor says to me

on Zoom (isn’t that crazy?)

I’m not concentrating

That I’ll go where I look when I’m out on the road.

There’s a chain, she says, connecting my eyes to my brain to the wheels of the car–

So I’ll drift up into stranger’s houses

where I sometimes see a bookcase and wonder what they like to read.

Mum gets back from work

and says I smell like an old lady

she sniffs and dismisses my fingers

and tells me to wash them before it lingers

and to rinse my mouth with the blue stuff she drinks

that makes her sick in the sink

so much it comes up the shower drain

it stinks.

So I wash with soap and hope

one day I don’t rinse my kids mouth out with this

(for saying something like Fuck the Pope)

because I was dared to by Cousin Chris.

All the rules she had, lost to drinking

Now Mum’s back she changes everything

she snaps the curtains shut and

says, I’m remarrying

(for the seventh time)

I ignore her and she climbs the stairs

stopping halfway to catch her breath

Her guy, his name is Seth

And she didn’t believe me when I told her that’s the devil’s name.

For dinner, I heat up last night’s meal

pork covered in mushrooms

(I scrapped off the yellow stuff beginning to congeal)

In the night, the window shines back the reflection of the show Mum’s watching

and I eat

and she doesn’t

and she speaks her judgment

about things on screen.

Life’s so much faster when she’s home
(with the friend on her shoulder, shrewd and unseen)

I’m finishing the dishes when my sister sneaks in

with a finger to her lips

she whispers,

Did I wake Satan?

I shake my head. Mum’s passed out

and we’ve got to the point where

my sister’s happy about it and you know what?

I don’t care.

She’ll be upstairs tonight

on the phone, in a fight

with a boyfriend called Clayton

who she’s always calling tight because

he makes her pay for half the gas

when he drives her around all night.

Mum’s asleep

with the remote at her feet

so I go up to my room and read and write:

‘I hope Mum doesn’t wake up again

thinking it’s all alright.’

J. D. Halcro completed an MA in novel writing at City, University of London and writes short stories as well as novels.

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