I’m pulling my hair out again
and I worry that this is how the children will remember me.
As balls of tangled fluff, that roll
lazily under the sofa, to snag later in the hoover. Will they curse me
every time they have to empty the bag? Take it apart
with scissors, with that old blunt knife from the kitchen?
Will there be enough of it by then to fill the bin,
to stuff a pillow,
I think of it piling up in drifts, behind the door
of every room I’ve ever entered, wafted
down the sides of stairwells, sucked into escalators at Tesco.
(It spells my name in loops under tables in the local library.)
The cat coughs it up theatrically, and I know that there’s a clog
the size of a tumour in the bathroom plug hole.
If they’re lucky, dinner guests might find a portion in their lasagne,
or as the secret ingredient tossed in the salad. They’ll discreetly push it
to the rim of the plate and say nothing.
And I worry that this is how the children will remember me
as I wrap a strand around my finger
watching as the skin turn to red and then blue.
Jennie E. Owen’s writing has won competitions and has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire with her husband and three children.