My mother can't bear to watch me dying
( she says ). She sits in the Public Library
and pretends to read. So now
I've become my grandmother's child.
This is temporary. We collaborate
on salads, negotiate meat, weigh apples.
She feeds me careful cubes of chicken.
I'm her very good tabby cat
( for the time being ). But my mother
cooks chips in a seething golden haze,
makes toffee at midnight
with a dark reek of sugar,
and, out for lunch the other day,
while I ate three tenths of a salad,
she gorged on Knickerbocker Glory.
No protein. No vitamins. I told her that.
She laughed and ordered a Drambuie.
Now she's eating bread and marmalade
with huge glaring bites. There's something
wild about her. Feral? Yes, she's feral.
published in Orbis 2006
and in Looking Good, Shoestring Press, 2009.
© 2006 Carole Coates