Every year with my son’s birthday cake,
I relive hours of pushing, the rush to cut
me open. My boy alive but in neonatal care,
with nasal drip and encased in plastic.
The years too since Mum’s diagnosis.
She could only hold him later,
after her radiotherapy; her head
dressed up like a cosied teapot.
Her baldness was softened by baby fuzz
as his hair grew free of fluffy chickness.
We watch together as he blows out
his fifteen candles. He’s taller than us now,
but I still feel the eggshell thinness
of both their bared scalps.
Sarah James/Leavesley is a poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Her recent titles How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Poetry Press) and plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press) were both shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards. Her website is at http://sarah-james.co.uk.