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She’s come back for her stuff, and for her children’s stuff.
It’s dangerous to be here, so she moves at speed
Around the house she hasn’t entered for a week,
Since they escaped. He might come back. He might have tired
Of seeking consolation in the local bars,
Of getting men on stools, with nothing else to do,
To see his point of view. On each trip to the car
With bedding, clothes and toys, she checks the empty road.

She’s hunting in the living room for photographs
Of her the child, at home with mum and dad and cats,
Of her the teenage star of school productions, her
On holiday near Pisa, by the sea, with mates
And boys, the year before she met him. Here they are
And there she is, or was. She liberates a few.
A sack is slumped against the television set.
She looks. ‘Wank videos,’ she mutters, and she turns

And there he is. A silence. And her hand goes straight
Up to her throat to feel the place, still tender, where
He touched her last. ‘Don’t think you frighten me,’ she says
And walks straight by him to the car. He makes no move.
She drives away, and suddenly a rush of joy
Invades her, gaining speed between the winter fields,
Though it has been so long since she has tasted it
That now she tastes it it is hard to recognise.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author