By the book
When you buy me the book
I cannot see the wool wound round your fingers
unravelling pages all the way back to sheep.
Yes, some winters we dig lambs out of drifts
warm them with fire
keep the flock at the spine of our story
you knitting us together whilst I
I search for paths into spring.
Sometimes you point out a chapter
gather words with your pen
in blood and bone
sit for hours beside our flames
unpicking the past
writing me into your future.
After the accident they repair me
I am never the same skin again.
I choose the fabrics
she wouldn’t like
begin to unbutton unzip
all that fastens home
the clothes I have outgrown
a mother who lives in skirts
too shabby for her face
who once pretended
never to become her mother
through the smallest eye
hem herself into a lie.
Julia Usman has had numerous poems and articles published. Her first collection She Who Sings Is Not Always Happy, Coverstory Books, was published in March 2021. She was brought up on a farm in North Yorkshire and now lives in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, England.