Phone box boy sleeps in a glass coffin,
knees tucked up round his face,
the booth is steamed by his warmth.
I don’t think of him again till the top
of the metro steps at night.
He greets me from under his hood,
with an inky hand shakes
coins in half a Coke bottle, says thanks.
He’s not my child, but he needs me today
before he curls up
and waits to be buried in the sky.
Three bottles of thick milk
on the doorstep, day in, day out,
my childhood a race to its creamy
gold top against my sister
and clever blue tits; disappointment
on frozen mornings in lollies of foiled ice
we’d have loved if it were summer.
That was when birds were well-fed,
before the unkind woman snatched
thirds of a pint from our recess, before
skinny soya, black tea and forgetting Britishness,
before I knew my body could bring it
forth, could gorge and tingle, burst
and overflow for a tiny mouth
to sore my nipples into hard fruit.
Kate Noakes, Welsh academician and poet, is co-founder of Paris Lit Up (parislitup.com). Her most recent collection is I-spy and Shanty from corrupt press (2014). Her next, Tattoo on Crow Street, is out with Parthian in 2015. She blogs at boomslangpoetry.blogspot.com