Part two of a series of poems by Penny Shutt, a kinship carer, who explores how it feels to come to terms with bringing up her brother’s child
Mummy is the one who Face Times you from an unknown number the day after giro day. She’s the brightly-coloured one with braids through her hair and a tattoo of your name on her wrist. Mummy is the one who sings on the streets on a borrowed guitar, about how she’d be there by your side if only she had the choice. She’s the one who brings all the sweeties to her four hours of supervised contact each month. And the one who’s laughter and tears and predictable unpredictability are what you’ll remember when the time comes to explain. But mummy is not the name I write on your forms at the doctors, at nursery when you fall and hurt yourself, or at the singing group we go to every Thursday at the library. Because mummy is busy making dream catchers next to a cardboard sign saying Homeless, please spare some change. She’s the one who will fill you with a rainbow of promises and leave each time, eyes red from tears or whatever she’s been smoking. She’s the one who will tell you you’re coming home to be with your brother when you’re too little to know that they wouldn’t let that happen. I am not your mummy, I am just the one you live with ‘til the council sort out housing in mummy’s eyes, or for as long as you need to in mine.
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