Child comforting a mother
A lump in my mum’s throat as she tells me
of the lump in my aunt’s breast, the years between
pass across troubled eyes, her mouth struggling
to settle itself, as a delivery van passes.
I implore her to hold onto hope as we hug
and she weeps, sudden explosion of grief
as I feel like the adult, comforting child,
the role-reversal which is dawning on me.
Word is the pre-op’s Tuesday, operation Thursday,
now taking a holiday with my uncle for the weekend
to barren Northumberland to escape Hartlepool,
familiar territory, tarnished by bad news.
I check on my mother before I take the train,
but a broken face stares blankly into the pillow,
the birds twittering beyond the window,
so I dare not speak and close the door.