Eight-year-old sitting in Bramhall’s field,
shoes scuffed from kicking a stone,
too young for a key but old enough now
to walk the short mile back from school.
You’ve spied your mother down in the village
crossing the street, purse in her fist.
In her other hand her shopping bag nurses
four ugly potatoes caked in mud,
a boiling of peas, rags of meat, or a tail of fish
in grease-proof paper, the price totted up
in penciled columns of shillings and pence.
How warm must she be in that winter coat?
On Old Mount Road the nearer she gets
the smaller she shrinks, until you reach out
to carry her home on the flat of your hand
or your fingertip, and she doesn’t exist.
© Simon Armitage