Jane Burn II

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YOU KIPPER

This old man at the till,
all dodder and fluff. Puffball frost
on his head, watered eyes,
lovely smile, shaky hands.
He’s got this wounded Bambi look
about him, gets right to my heart.
Lovely granddad, one I never had.
I melt. I want to snoodle him, tuck
him up, sugar up milky coffee,
accept toffees. Pretend
to eat them. I pack his bags. Oh,
I’m terrible at these things.
Don’t worry, don’t worry my pet.
That’s £12.42. He breaches
the weathered fold of his fossil wallet,
scrabbles his eolith fingers within.
I see it. It comes out with his bus pass,
his twenty pound note.
His membership card for the Kippers

and I want to be sick, be sick there and then
and I don’t know what to think
my heart bangs he has not grown horns
though I check and he’s smiling
smiling thank you thank you
bless you lovely lass
and
I can’t swallow I can hardly

say goodbye
you have
a lovely day

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