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A Life in Prime Numbers

One. You sit and smile, wait for your sister
to interpret all your needs, bring you toys and cake,
watch your three-year-old Superman brother
with surprise and awe.

Three. Running ahead on a family walk.
Bear held firmly. You share Tuesdays and Thursdays
with a little girl whose mother and I
have an arrangement which keeps us sane.

At five you dance in lurex top
and stars and stripes boxers,
a small blonde Michael Jackson
in shades.

Seven, you go very quiet, get lost,
then change schools and make good friends.
It doesn’t matter that the poem
you knew the night before has gone by morning.

Eleven. You change schools again.
All the words and numbers start
falling into place. You shine briefly
in the school play and take up the clarinet.

At thirteen you punch the bully who torments your friend.
Go to Italy with the school, bring back a box of sparkling stones.
Nearly miss the bus at Etna when you haggle
for a necklace of diamante and obsidian I wear now.

Seventeen, your world shrinks. You hang out
in the Sixth Form Common Room when you can.
They visit you in your germ free room when you cannot.
When home you go to all the parties, do your exams.

The year you’re nineteen you go to Newquay
with your Sixth Form mates. Your big sister camps nearby.
Oramorph in the fridge. A special ticket to see Cold Play,
choose not to go to the after gig party. You don’t do pity.

Guy Fawkes night. They come back from all over. Your friends.
Say their goodbyes. As starbursts fill the sky.

Rosie Barrett lives in South Devon UK. For the past 25 years the view from her PC is a tidal road, the estuary of the Devon Avon, otherwise known as the Aune. She has been writing forever but only in the last few years taken poetry seriously and started to share it. She was short listed for the Bridport Prize 2017, was commended in the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet competition, long listed in the OTE competition and won the Reading on the Night for that poem in Galway. Some of her poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines. She loves the companionship found when poets get together and read. Most of all she hopes she paints pictures.