Half-term Week – Eleanor J Vale

2021 Crabbe Competition – 2nd Prize
Adjudicator: Anne-Marie Fyfe

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday all ticked off,
and it’s Friday. I’m on the train watching for Farncombe
because if I miss it I’ll end up in Guildford
and Auntie Mina will not be there to meet me –
but there she is in her Jaegar mustard coat
and her lipstick cheeks, wrapping me in kisses,
telling me that Uncle Claude has been sent
home from work this very morning not well.

When we reach her semi-detached
with the flowery front and vegetable back,
her sister Margaret-who-never-wanted-children
is in the kitchen, busy, bossy, cross, saying
we have to understand CLAUDE IS VERY ILL.
Mina is cross back,
NONSENSE HE’S AS STRONG AS AN OX.
Uncle Claude, dear kind Uncle Claude, is upstairs,
still waiting for the doctor, pacing the landing,
can’t get comfortable, face as grey as his soft v-neck pullover.

I am sent away with Auntie Margaret.
On Saturday we visit the zoo
where the sadness of elephants makes me cry.
When we get back to her flat
the black telephone is ringing,
ringing too loudly for the size of the room.

Copyright © 2021 Eleanor J Vale


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