Guest Poem by Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing and runs poetry workshops in community settings. She is widely published and has three collections: Planting the Snow Queen and Parachute Silk by Oversteps Books and Water Chits, by Indigo Dreams. She was awarded the Hamish Canham prize by the Poetry Society in 2004 and is currently working on her fourth collection.

Speaking to my Dead Mother

What are we doing here in this station tearoom?
We’ve slipped back sixty years.
You’re wearing your grey pencil-slim skirt
queuing for the buffet. Sipping tea.
I’m in my pink cotton frock covered in smuts.
You’d told me not to sit facing the engine.
It’s like old times, whiling away
minutes between steam trains –
each summer we took three to get to Devon.

I remember you telling me about that first time
we travelled. I was three weeks old,
you, fleeing from the baby snatchers
brandishing adoption forms.
How did you manage cases and a baby?
Did you feed me in the ladies waiting room?

I wish I could ask you how we sheltered
in a tearoom like this,
huddled like fugitives,
you afraid running to the safety
of your family with your burden.
Mother, brother, sister.
Oh, but they took you in, didn’t they?
And they took me in.
Before we say goodbye, I want to tell you
that each year, I still go back
to Devon to lay flowers.