Everywhere she goes, he goes.
She’s brought him here for Sunday tea.
He’s been with me two weeks , she says
and deftly shifts him on her knee.
The rest of us try not to see
the fine blue feed-tube up his nose
or how his spine won’t hold him up.
She says, I’ve called him Samuel.
He didn’t have a name at all,
just “Baby Boy.”
She sets her cup
out of reach, by habit. He
eyes it warily. Grey dusk
hangs over everything: our grate
laid for a fire, books on the desk,
the clock, the cold, black, silted tea
the strainer holds. She says, It’s late
Please could I lay him down somewhere?
That’s fine. He’s not particular.


Settled in our travel cot,
he stares at her with old brown eyes:
anxious, though, He never cries ,
she boasts. Good boy. We’ll see if he’s
adoptable
”(what if he’s not?)
The thing is, you can never keep
a child. They go their way.
We snap
the light off, leave the door ajar.
In the other room, before the fire,
all sorted now, we sit and drink.
The sherry and the evening sink.
Firelight shudders on the floor,
in the darkening window where
our reflected faces loom and pass
like faces glancing from a bus,
watching us briefly; and through these
apparitions, the empty trees.

Sally Thomas
October 2009