Aunt Maggie was diagnosed
with second childhood syndrome.
Glued to the telly all day tutting,
begging it for sweets,
and the kind of attention
that only the dog could give,
panting with a loyal edginess
at her slippered feet.
She’d rode the dull mule
of adulthood with a tight jaw,
screwed down by gender,
by health, by living. Now
that Time had grown up
and left home, she was forever
six or seven, about to go
out and play on the street,
skip or dress for a birthday party
down Everton Brow.
She says to me, ‘I don’t ever ever ever
want to grow up and be like you!’.
I could see her point. Childhood’s
little pink tutu, and sheaf of pencils,
its tucking-ins, its ‘What shall
we do today?’, and, mostly, its
not having to be anyone
or not much of anyone
except one given face
in a named tribe.

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