She’s made of a million white-fingered sleights of hand,
light-touch lies like slight dust traces. Look,
an example: a small metal cage, inside,
banked-up, shredded pages of The Guardian,
a scum-ringed bowl, no food, no animal.
He’s hiding, she’s insisting to her school friend,
with a blistering of shame.
Like bonfire toffee resisting the hammer,
her childhood lies are solid until they smash:
See her thumb’s blood dripping on lino. She claims,
I cut it on the sideboard’s edge. But no.
She tested out the long, serrated knife,
found it a fraction delicious, dangerous, deep,
then sore and wet and red.
With age, her lies are rusted rods through concrete.
To pick apart the false and true would need
the demolition gang, the wrecker’s ball,
to smash away her children, jobs, her partners;
render teenage fads and projects rubble;
rase her pram, crush toys and bottles;
get right back to the pain in her mother’s eyes.
Louise Ordish is a Reading-based poet, mixing writing with freelance work and family life. This poem was drafted in response to an assignment on Katrina Naomi’s online course, ‘Autobiographical Poetry: Uses of I’.