Vodka in Winter
I wanted to be baking trays
of home-grown squashes,
dug from allotment earth
with my own strong fingers.
Happy wall hangings, radio 4
and the smell of coffee.
I did not know that I should hold dear,
standing in the kitchen with my brother.
Two latch key kids peeling
oven pizzas and bickering.
Watching the Disney Channel
with cushions on our laps.
Me, mind-weaving a future for myself,
with homemade batches of hummus
and cycling and fresh air.
I did not rest my hand on his arm
and tell him earnestly
that I would treasure this memory,
but I did light up at his jokes,
couldn’t help it.
You wouldn’t have been able to either.
I told him he was wrong as could be
when he claimed
that Russians sometimes have to brush their teeth
with vodka, in Winter.
Gullible, I said.
Standing in my kitchen,
walls peeling yellow with happy photos
and stuck-on cut-outs,
eight years later.
Proper coffee pot gurgling, and his spurious claims
confirmed true by Our Own Correspondent,
my guts ache and apology.