Ingrid's words
were muffled
when she spoke to me
by Dunn's hat shop


where we said
we'd meet
the day before
her thick lip


(where he father
had backhanded her)
moved slowly
does you dad


wear hats?
she asked
looking in
the shop window


I said
never seen him
ever wear a hat


not even to cover
his balding head
she looked
at the passing traffic


what happened to you?
I asked
pointing to her lip
my dad didn't like


the way I brushed
my hair
he said it was
too tartish


whatever that means
she said
tapping her
recently brushed hair


I tried to get out
of his way
but he caught me
with a backhand


I’m going
to the cinema
this afternoon
I said


there's a cowboy film on
and I want to see
how the good guy
draws out his gun


he does it
by crossing over
his hands
could I come?


she asked
Mum might give me
9d for a ticket
as long as Dad


doesn't know
she added
I said


come to my flat
after lunch
we walked down
the subway


to get
to St George's Road
to walk along
to Bedlam Park


to try out
the swings there
and buy an ice cream
outside the swimming pool


(money I'd been given
by my old man
for polishing
his brown brogues)


I studied her
as we walked along
she talking
of her old man's temper


and how he punched
her mother
for letting
his dinner get cold


I noticed her
faded grey dress
the flowers red
against watery green stems


ankle socks
black scuffed shoes
her thin hands


gesturing as she talked
and the slight smell
of dampness
as I neared her


the bruise
under her left eye
like the morning sun


where her old man
had thumped her
for something
she hadn't done.

View dadio's Full Portfolio