If a demon
donned in silver frock
offered me the chance to start again,
promising that I may retain
a select portion
of the wisdom of sixty-four years,
Would I return
to the workish warmth
of my mother’s hearth? Hear
her sing again, revel in recitations
of Wordsworth, Rosetti, giggle at the rhymes
of Edward Lear, Spike Milligan,
enjoy stories and small talk
as we cook and clean.
Sit on her knee while static
crackles and a voice fit for kittens
simpers through Listen With Mother.
Playing in the rabbit’s pen,
feeding scraps to the hens, waiting
for my brothers to come home, my small heart
filled with the only love I know, my flesh
as yet untouched by the unholy.
Would I try again?
If I could evade the mistakes,
the fast and false breaks,
the arms of pale ogres and odius fakes.
The ache of living for living’s sake.
If I could relive
my pre-school days,
correct my dwindling years –
would I do it all again? Build a castle
of amethyst bricks, fill it with laughter,
let the children bounce and leap
on furnishings picked
with impeccable taste,
live the high life
’til I die.
Would I –
if I could evade all the pain –
would I choose to be born again?
I’m tired and I want to go home,
back to my mother’s womb, yet
would I give it a second go?
©Jane Paterson Basil