Bryony Littlefair





I can’t imagine how it must have been:
my sudden, sticky fists, my turbulence,
my fretful sleep. The constant interruptions,
the mess, the uncontrollable outpour of love
like a reflex, a weeping wound. And then
the years, hurling themselves out of the
horizon towards her:  I was 8, then 10,
then 14, safe and self possessed, the world
like scenery in a video game, pulling itself together
in front of me as I moved through it.
When I wasn’t there, it didn’t exist.
Life was simple and singular
and all mine. Until that one slow Thursday
we left school early, the broken boiler
stuttering its complaint. About to
announce myself in the hallway, I heard it:
the lift and catch of the piano
unravelling under my mother’s hands.
I opened the door and saw her, small
in her cardigan, eyes closed, somewhere else.
There are some rooms you could enter
but don’t: I stood quiet and uncertain,
shivering like a just-plucked violin string;
washed up in the hallway, wondering at her life.



Bryony Littlefair works and lives in London. Her work has been previously published in The Cadaverine and longlisted for The Ver Prize 2016. She blogs at and tweets @B_Littlefair.

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