While my brother was transcribing
the Latin names of medicines
into cloth-bound ledgers
in the office where he worked

and the Woodbine on my father’s lip
burnt backwards
to a long grey ash

she freed me
into my new element:
not a bit amazed
at being born.

My sisters were fetched back
from the neighbours
down the road

the eldest who was nine
already planning
how she’d plait my hair
and paint my toenails pink,

the other, who was four
locked her great, dark eyes on me
and swore revenge
on this boneless, mottled thing
who dared usurp her place
as youngest child.

I smiled and father said
‘Sshh! an Angel’s passing
somewhere overhead.’

I remember none of this.