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Her Inheritance

Emily Berry

The day came and I was sponging twenty years of dust

from a green clock to avoid you, knee-deep in first editions

of Iris Murdoch and your name on the flyleaf of every one;


was only red-eyed over onions, waiting for the boy I’d cooked for

to turn up and shift old champagne boxes in the name of love;

was calling you ‘some dead woman’ as if you were only objects


where your hands had touched them; was laughing, despite you,

with this boy you’ll never meet, this boy who likes these cheeks

you handed down, who had nothing to say, he said, and held me


as if it mattered now. And I was grown up, with your face on,

heating spice after spice to smoke out the smell of books, to burn

the taste buds off this bitten tongue, avoid ever speaking of you.

From Poetry London, no. 60, Summer 2008