Double Portrait

Just poster paint on coarse paper, pinned up

with all the rest by the entrance to the school hall.


Miss Stephenson stopped me and told me she liked it.

Or was she married by then? The class gave her


a soft toy at the end of term for her baby-to-be.

In Autumn we sat subdued as she returned


childless, but brisk to make us all feel better.

I missed the call to claim back my painting.


The photo, too, is lost: my father, semi-slumped

in the low foam chair, flapping his hand while talking,


a blurred gesture I stilled into silence, my mother

with her upright posture, conscious of her figure,


her summer sling-backs, the ones she’d slip off

to let the dog lick her feet, almost as a favour.