I whipped the clothes off her

my mother’s retelling
of the quick thinking
that saved my skin.

I remember reaching
for the handle over-edging
the table, tipping, scalding,

Mum’s hands pulling
dress, vest, knickers, stripping
fabric before it fused to flesh.

So careless of Auntie Christine
not to place it further in,
to take her coffee black.


My mother’s finest hour; the heroine.
I stripped her off and hosed her down.
Me, naked in the backyard, shivering.



Maria C. McCarthy was the winner of the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015. She writes poems, stories and memoir. She has published three of her own books, and edited many others. www.medwaymaria.co.uk