You made handbags out of milk bottle tops
bound in raffia; machined rugs out of rags
and odd balls of wool; sewed cami-knickers
from parachute silk, my first satchel
handkerchiefs from flourbags; cooked up bread poultices
sheepshead brawn; crocheted cuffs and collars;
smocked, pleated, piped; cable and moss stitched.
Cakes though weren’t your forte. You were defter
unspooling golden syrup onto mounds
of bread and marge, doled out slice by slice
or recycling the weekend’s leftovers.
Now, sitting here, turning up trouser legs
apprentice task, I’m aware that even
the names for your skills are exiting Left
out of my head, and the mother tongue,
shop soiled, shop spoiled, we learn to forget.
From Oxford Poetry Vol 13 No 1 (Spring 2009)