The windscreen’s dusty, I forgot
to turn off the lights
and now the car won’t start.
I won’t I assure the man by phone
try to hug you when you come.

My mother comes forward,
I take a few steps back.
She cuts the fish and chips in half
floppily, I dance a second
plate for her tomorrow’s lunch.

Letters crawl under their envelopes
like seed. I’ve sent you books,
I’m sending news, I’ve washed
a first class stamp with my tongue.
One chance to post today.

Online laughter, like
your sense of humour.
On the phone to work,
Love you, darling / Sorry,
I wasn’t – sorry – talking to you.



Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature and Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her most recent collection is Accidental Fruit (Worple).