After they left you lost your job, the Georgian
house your father had left on his deathbed,
and the respect of the school. Graffiti
appeared on playground walls, names of giants
never mentioned before: Cradlesnatcher,
Kiddiefiddler. Whore. Market stalls whispered
Myra and the Moors in idle gossip,
spreading rumours like honey over bread.
Tabloid journalists scrutinised every
angle, listened to your messages and
rifled the garbage as you dyed your hair
and changed your name to escape detection
like a pirate radio. Mrs P.
Mrs A. Mrs E D O.
The council tore down the red-brick cottage
to stop the media poking lenses
into unwanted business. They threw out
the wooden boxes and Primus camping stove,
but left the tea-tray behind as a clue
for amateur detectives, morbidly
curious, and for future explorers.
The new headteacher explained your absence
in a language children could understand,
saving the detail for the staff meetings
as I was moved to the countryside to escape
the questions and the bullying,
only knowing you’d signed a different register.
For years I played dumb with psychiatrists,
who wanted me to do that trick with the chalk,
but yours was the only love I wished for.
I made diary entries in my wrists,
slept in my crimson-stained school uniform
and waited for the tap tap tap on the door,
telling me you’d come home;
but you never did.