She brings with her an apple as a shield,
after every bite she wobbles her tooth,
wonders if the next huge bite will be enough.
She tells me she is thinking of a giraffe,
the giraffe she is certain the tooth fairy will bring.
She picks the black sugar paper,
scribbles every colour
in a rainbow of defiance,
asks how to spell
but the words
She cannot stay in this room without calling Mama?
every few minutes, every few minutes she knocks
on the wall to the room next door where Mama is,
schemes up reasons why she must ask Mama
a question or show Mama her picture
or find out what this animal is
that seems to have bandages on its legs,
because as much as she knows about tooth fairies and apples,
she also has an eye for the broken
and when Mama is out of the room,
Mama ceases to exist.
That’s what happens to Mamas,
This one is her fourth.
Charlotte Ansell lives on an old Sheffield keel moored up on the Medway. Her third poetry collection Deluge (Flipped Eye) was a 2019 Poetry Book Society Winter recommendation. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Mslexia, Now Then, Butcher’s Dog, Prole, Algebra of Owls and various anthologies, most recently ‘These are the hands’ – poems by NHS workers. She was a recipient of a Royal Society of Literature Literature Matters Award in 2020 with fellow poet Janett Plummer, and is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen Collective.