Nan, northern, small, from an earlier time,
she called the cinema ‘the flicks’,
with her Geordie spittle, forever an old lady,
behind bottle-bottom NHS glasses.
She sat on the edge on that elastic-sprung chair,
the three-piece suite, which we later inherited;
Nan sipped her occasional wee-dark whisky,
when visited, on a Saturday, by all her children,
but one – unknown – for her, always missing:
That secret she kept became her last honesty;
her out-of-wedlock mistake re-born,
with the final clearance of foreign nick-knacks,
mementos, of a life, without her first child;
he was long-removed from her early shaming,
steam-shipped, as an infant, to another world.
He left home before them, to that other place.
He died, the letter said, in an automotive crash.
I can still see Nan’s fag-suck lined mouth,
her skin, leathery, never once kissed
by her first child, his distance, his shipping,
beyond her long-sight, her failing vision.