Tidying the dining room so I can turn it into a bedroom for a month, (our French exchange student arrives shortly), I cleared out the ‘work desk formerly known as dressing table’ and found a folded, used envelope which myself and Child 1 once scrawled over. The specifics of when and where we committed this act of graffiti have sunk deep in the swamp I laughingly call my memory, though it must have been whilst waiting for some appointment or other. I do recall I was trying to be clever and prompt her to write poetry. I remember also the giggles of the child-woman beside me as she subverted my sneaky attempt to engage her artistic reflexes.
The envelope is decorated with random words in beautiful cursive script that’s a mixture of her handwriting and mine: ‘evasive’, ‘white winter trees’ and a cheery ‘hello Mummmmmmmmmm’ . There are drawings – of her father (unlife-like – it’s smiling) and an attempt by me to capture our daughter’s beautiful features, complete with the tick of kohl pencil on each eye lid. There’s also our poem, prompted by something we could see from a window, perhaps, and written a line at a time by each of us. It won’t win prizes, but I share it never-the-less.
White winter trees give shelter to the birds
At the foot of the trunk lays fresh dog turd
The postman comes by and slips on the mess
And he’s a cross dresser and it ruins his dress
He’s high on vodka so he couldn’t care less!
(You don’t get high on vodka, numpty!)
(He’s high on coke, then, and couldn’t care less)
This story’s becoming more and more absurd
when it’s really about trees giving shelter to the birds.