Carol Ann Duffy


What she had retained of herself is a hidden grip
working her face like a glove-puppet. She smiles
at his bullying, this Englishman who talks scathingly
of Frogs in front of his French wife.

She is word-perfect. Over the years he has inflated
with best bitter till she has no room. Je t’aime
isn’t in it. One morning she awoke to a foreigner
lying beside her and her heart slammed shut.

The youngest lives at home. She stays up late
to feed what keeps her with the father. England
ruined him and holds her hostage in the garden,
thinking of her sons and what they’ve cost.

Or dreaming in another language with a different name
about a holiday next year. He staggers in half-pissed
and plonks his weight down on her life, hates her
for whatever reason she no longer lets him near.