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I was 13 when I was born to a scruffy menopausal woman
sitting opposite me in a ring of empty chairs. She laboured
with NHS therapy and cut the cord between me and the past.
Nearby a sign read ‘A tidy desk
means a sick mind’, when it wasn't buried
behind notes. At 18 she handed me to my dad,
her colleague. I told them about the mountains

and the magic dong of goat bells. The lack of motives
in the hands of laughing herders as they patted my back, pouring
water or goat’s milk down my dusty throat. The women
spoke a language like clove oil on tooth ache, their children hung
around like paparazzi with giggles and blushes so infectious
they still wake me. All of them offering dark bread and cured meat
that gave me diarrhoea. I told them about the cross and it’s weight

how I knew the history of every chip on its dark grain
but nothing of my own and why I was nailed on it in my bedroom
with grey underlay that stuck to the skin. Blood and melted pearls
pooling on the shinny fibres. Red and white spitting faces of community
shouting till I laughed,
or stopped.

I told them why I ignored the children
when they told me not to keep climbing. But a boy found us,
me and the mule, damp and dying behind a rock in the clouds.
He showed me how to keep going when the ground was overgrown.
I told him everything I couldn't tell the shrinks and shared the weight.
We strode and sang, side by side with continents, stretched and temperate.
Then he turned to go home
and I changed tracks
to find a contact of my own.

For days skies like mud soaked Scottish sheep broke,
torrential warm water washed away my multiples.
Today my room is laminated and filled with lighter symbols,
a red beaded wall hanging from Palermo that should probably
be in a brothel and postcards, Judith décapitant Holopherne
from the Uffizi. I've made it
all the way down the hall from the room
my parents couldn't carpet. Where I stood
barefoot on the underlay in a yuck
pink but thick and cotton nightie to lift
that big wooden cross like its spray paint
and Styrofoam.


Although the conception was a chore there were fireworks the night
his trace mass and doubling numbers were captured by my uterine wall.
Sick of painting over filthy terracotta in another house that could never be home.
The curtains still days from the final battle ir rails when I stopped
to watch proper colours rip from the Tay’s tight black skin on the 5th of November.
I breathed it all in from a safe distance, the fireworks racket turned
to pebbles pulled in the break.  He has the name of a friend.
'River’ wasn't added until after I told the midwife he’s fine
hand him over
.   I woke to his eyes shinny at me like sunshine
on wet blue roof slates. The nurse said he watched me sleep.


There was racket, a half curse then a stretched
aching silence. The fist that barred
my mouth for a decade released as I leaned
across the scratched table top to repeat a familial
tone that none of us bought.
For the tape: Detective Inspector
Pinkerton has just fallen
on his arse.

Laughter shook Lodge Walk, punters
in nearby pubs spilled their pints, in the cells
men kicked lumps from stone walls. I’m sure
I heard the dogs barking, battering their cages
with their tails. Before the abs started twitching
beneath an almost pristine designer shirt and my face
broke into the smile I thought I had lost.

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