Before

Cynthia Fuller

Remember how it felt when the long days stretched
into evening and no one called you home,
and you wandered down the hill as cool air
breathed up from the grass and a star shone in blue sky -

when you opened the back door so tired
that every pore of your skin seemed to buzz
with nettle stings, gnat bites, scrapes and rashes,
and your mother took one look and called you
a ragamuffin, and you couldn't even get
the words out to say yes, you would like
a jam sandwich and a glass of milk -

and though it wasn't bath night till Sunday
she ran a warm bath for you because
you couldn't get into bed with those filthy feet,
but you squealed and moaned when she rubbed
the soapy flannel over your legs and arms
prickling with sunburn and scratches and scabs,
and she laughed as she pulled burrs and sticky jack
out of your hair and rolled you in a rough towel -

remember how it felt to put on clean pyjamas,
to get into bed smelling of Knights Castile,
to fall into a deep dark pit of sleep
while she was still talking -



Cynthia Fuller

Cynthia Fuller was born in Kent but has lived in the North East since the 1980s, working freelance as a teacher of literature and creative writing until she retired in 2014.

She worked as a poetry editor for the magazine Writing Women for 12 years, and co- edited several poetry anthologies, including The Poetry Cure with Julia Darling (Bloodaxe, 2005), and North By North East with Andy Croft (Iron Press, 2006).

Flambard Press published five books of her poetry, Moving Towards Light (1992), Instructions for the Desert (1996), Only a Small Boat (2001), Jack's Letters Home 1917-18 (2006), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and Background Music (2009). Red Squirrel Press published her sixth collection Estuary in 2015, and a pamphlet Home is Where in 2017.

She has lived in Esh Winning, County Durham since 1995. She has two grown up sons and four grandchildren.

Cynthia's previous Poems of the Month are Grandmother's Portrait 1890 and Two Women.

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Before © 2018 Cynthia Fuller: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.