I am 45,
ride a pushbike,
wear a gabardine raincoat,
belonged to my Dad,
I live with my mum over the fish and chip shop.
Like the batter on the haddock
my mother’s love clings to me,
dripping with excess.
I am floppy under its power.
I tried to escape.
Had a job, briefly.
Three hours a day in the University library,
Parked my bike outside,
hung my coat in a little room.
Surrounded by books I thought they would speak to me,
help me with my novel.
The books, mutely, kept their secrets,
but the others whispered, “He smells of fish”.
Alluring, sensuous, siren-like as you pass the chippie,
but, not a popular scent on a man.
Walked out one day
when I shelved a book in the Sociology section, entitled
‘Potatoes: Their Place in Marxist Peasant Ideology’.
Did I mention I have greasy hair?
How could I escape?
Nell, from across the road, came for her usual
‘Don’t-forget-the-scraps’ Friday supper.
She found my mum on the floor
Malcolm Henshall [Revised September 2020]