Poetry by Maureen Wilkinson

Sandra, I Have Your Photo Still

This poem was published in Poetry Matters, and is included in my collection THE BLINDMAN GOES FROM A TO B published by Peterloo Poets. A signed copy may be PURCHASED HERE...


You spent your childhood in and out of care.
This snap was taken on a council trip
to Broadstairs by a social worker whose
name you'd long forgotten.  She perhaps
had called you, for it seems you're smiling back
from your sand-castles.
a small girl of six.
It was the only image of yourself
you had retained in all your fifteen years.
I still recall your half embarrassed crack
about not having changed,
although in fact
you'd grown up inches taller than I was,
and Snoopy T shirts couldn't hide your breasts.
I still remember teaching you to read.
How you were shy to speak the childish text,
and how you liked to barricade your desk
with books and chairs, and how meticulously
you'd paste blue paper in your locker space,
to keep your things inside its tiny cell.
Some people seem to get themselves misplaced
at birth.  You surely warranted a better fate
than shiftless parents, and their part-time love.
I still remember how you used to swear
at my insistence you do this or that.
Your 'Fuck-offs', uttered with the sweetest smiles
assumed a comic grace.  You'd bring
the school's grey rabbit into class
for comfort, as you finished off your work.
You brought the photo in on my last day.
By now you must be twenty five or six.
I keep it as a talisman, which
by virtue of its fragile thread of love
might keep you from those legacies of loss,
which hand on past misfortunes like a curse.
I hope somebody loves you, that by now
you've got a home and children of your own.
Perhaps you'll see within an offspring's face
a likeness that assimilates your own
lost childhood image, which I'm keeping safe.
Sandra, I have your photo still.

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