Bathrooms were white, in a row,
no radox cartons or bottles of Ulay,
no toothbrushes sharing a pot
on shelves, no trappings of family
to wrap round these unparented children
not allowed to wash their own hair.
And they laughed at Goldballs in his blue overalls
pressing into their backs as they sat in his chair
craning their necks over the basin, warm water
trickling over their napes,
the caress of his hands on their heads,
this sixty-something-year-old man with pale eyes,
fingering pre-teen scalps, wiping his snot in their hair.
Hélène Demetriades won the Hedgehog Press Full Fat Poetry Collection Competition in Dec. 20 and will have her debut collection The Plumb Line published in early 2022. Two of her poems have recently been commended in the Teignmouth Poetry Festival Competition 2021.