Hannah Linden

Above the Living Room Fire

Everyone had that painting, didn’t they?
Well, everyone we knew round here.
But not everyone felt as proud of it.
Not everyone’s mum looked like her

so that there was a nod, an embarrassed look down
as a man’s eye swept the painting’s cleavage;
or weighed the weight of the ponytail
in their mind’s hand. And she took

the exotic location, the brown eyes
the glisten of her perfect skin
and wore them over her stretch-marks
over the blush on her legs

from sitting too close to the open fire.
I wanted her to have that far-flung sky
the view out of the door of the painting.
I wanted her to be anywhere but here,

maybe, as a sensible child, even more
than she did. When we left, in a hurry,
missing the demolition men
by days, leaving Dad, and toys

still on the shelf above the kitchen door,
she must have stayed in the painting,
mustn’t she? She must have
felt the walls cave in on her.

I wonder if she felt where
my fingers had touched her hand once
when no one was looking. How I’d loved
her and then forgot I had.

Published widely, Hannah Linden was highly commended in the Prole Laureate competition 2015, and working with Gram Joel Davies, won the 2015 Cheltenham Poetry Festival Compound Competition. Her debut collection, ‘Wolf Daughter’, will explore the impact of parental suicide. Twitter: @hannahl1n

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