It does you good to be told off on your birthday

She is not really the one they want,

Not if they had the pick of the whole
world’s good behaviour, but it’s 8533608
Today’s the Day! and for breakfast

She piles lemon curd on thick, Ryvitas

Breaking from the strain,

They watch her, wishing, but she is
she today, and they look at her
As if she is good.


Get ready for the main parcel, burst with
Excitement!  Roller skates!  Spirograph!  And

Patent boots! Kisses on both
Parents, kisses on both cheeks!

They smile to say we are glad, we love you
We love you as if you were lying down
Nice and flat between two sheets and never

Shouting when the light goes off.


They have Hygena magazines, full of
Athletic, soft-haired girls, grown-uply taking
Round plates of Ritz crackers for the visitors

And she dreams of outfits for

Sitting on the edge of wine and cheese
Parties, passing along the stabs of Danish
Blue, Pan-Yan poked on Cheddar cubes,

Liver sausage applied like grouting.


Parties which they will never have, because of
How stilettos gouge crescents in parquet and

The marks men make in kitchens and

You can never replace pottery and

People will go upstairs and catch sight

Of all the disgrace strewn about.


But it’s today’s the day

The date’s so sharp it won’t keep still

Polite men with their buttons tight have it

On their newspapers, but they carry on

As if being her is not written down in glittering mauve
And pink and bluey-green,

A badge pinned on of being alive

The teacher puts your name up the night before, so
In the morning everyone will sing before
They pray. Even the smelly girl would get looked at
As if she was shiny and doing well, and outside they
Parade her cheering on chairs of hands.

Certain girls have their best dresses in paper bags,

peek like fairies at each other’s weddingy shoes


It’s today’s the day and

Her maroon pinafore stands out
Smooth.  Mum and Auntie have lipstick

On their teeth.  Dad and Uncle rub their
Hands together, while statues dance to
Music, and iced gems break in little bowls and

Hot fingers press the prickly carpet, the home-made
Sideboard stretches all along one wall, it’s

Hard against the head and up close under
Splintering veneer is the smell of
Sawdust from the butcher’s floor.


Round and round, the candles saluting brightly:

Six. seven, eight, nine ten


It’s today’s the day and

Everyone opens their eyes up really wide

Mum points the knife and

A secret wish turns to sin


The slope is slippery again, well it

Is the middle of winter, and at

Seven o’clock she screams, she
Claws, she runs like a sheepdog

The day rips open and her dark and
Sticky self falls out.


It does you good

To be told off on your birthday.

But she is one day nearer to goodness

And another year of waiting for

Next year