My eyes are staring back at me,
inquisitive and destined for exploration.
They want an explanation,
help with homework,
because a hellish phase of my life has now become history,
and I am a book,
as well as a chef,
so as I make dinner,
I don’t deny my curious companion the answers.
The water simmers softly around the pasta,
a tiny hand,
that was once much smaller,
shyly pulls on my dress.
“What was the war on COVID like?”
Of course, it becomes a war,
because Britain cannot face its past,
My eyes meet mine again,
wide and wondering,
as I continue a lecture I still don’t feel qualified to deliver.
“I went walking in the park every day.”
He wants more.
“Your uncle made a lot of cakes.”
“Grandma got a dog.”
I don’t tell him that I went to the park,
just to weep for what I was losing,
months at a time,
just wandering in the darkness,
waiting for relief that would never come.
I don’t tell him that the cakes came to pass,
because his uncle found me,
tear stained in the bathroom,
and he thought that filling my mouth with sweet treats,
would stop me saying I couldn’t stand life any longer.
I don’t tell him that grandma got a dog,
because she was locked away,
for far too long,
and she needed noise,
some warmth inside the quiet walls she called home.
I tell him about the singalongs,
weekly wailing applause,
work from home sleep ins,
fighting back giggle fits,
when my first Covid test made my nose ticklish,
and the absurd exhilaration that his uncle and I felt,
when McDonalds was finally back on Ubereats.
I gently tell him of the loss,
how I was lucky to keep hold of each piece of my heart,
I let him imagine some of the drama,
so he can think of me as a hero,
but I never really tell him about lost,
sleepless and never ending,
hospitals that became hell,
every night on the news,
pleading with the windows that stood between hearts to disappear,
how he was lucky to keep hold of his ability to exist,
because I almost lost mine.