Bed

Bed
She is that guid tae me so she is
an Am a burden tae her, I know Am ur.
Stuck here in this big blastit bed
year in, year oot, ony saint wuid complain.

There’s things she has tae dae fir me
A’ wish she didnae huv tae dae.
Am her wean noo, wey ma great tent o’ nappy,
an champed egg in a cup, an mashed tattie.

Aw the treats A’ used tae gie her,
she’s gieing me. A’ dinny ken whit happened.
We dinny talk any mair. Whether it’s jist
the blethers ha been plucked oot o’ us

an Am here like some skinny chicken,
ma skin aw bubbles and dots and spots,
loose flap noo (an yet as a young wuman
A’ took pride in ma guid smooth skin.)

Aw A’ dae is sit and look oot this windae.
A’ve seen hale generations graw up
an simmer doon fray this same windae –
that’s no seen a lick o’ paint fir donkeys.

The Kerrs have disappeared, but the last
Campbells ur still here so Am telt – 
tho’ hauf the time A’ dinny believe her:
A’ve no seen any Campbell in a lang time.

My dochter says ‘Awright mother?’
haunds me a thin broth or puried neep
an A say ‘Aye fine,’ an canny help
the great heaving sigh that comes oot

my auld loose lips, nor ma crabbit tut,
nor ma froon when A’ pu’ ma cardie tight
aroon ma shooders fir the night drawin in.
Am jist biding time so am ur.

Time is whit A’ hauld between
the soft bits o’ ma thumbs,
the skeleton underneath ma night goon;
aw the while the glaring selfish moon

lights up this drab wee prison.
A’ll be gone and how wull she feel?
No that Am saying A’ want her guilty.
No that Am saying Am no grateful.
Jackie Kay

From Jackie Kay, Darling: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2007) 

Reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults (The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award) and several for children. She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

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