Helen Mort

Rachel in Attercliffe

I’m in suspenders, working Boxing Day.
Your dad, your boyfriend nips out for a beer
then indicates down Derek Dooley Way.
The sign outside says entrance at rear.
There’s tinsel round the bannister, a star
above each bedroom door. I’m crimson to my hips.
I let them lift the layers and unhook my bra.
They’re talkative, telling me what the kids
got yesterday. I smile. I don’t mention my son.
Sometimes, I say I work in mental health.
The ones who’re silent when they come
intrigue me most. You have to laugh at yourself.
I like to think there’s hospital, a recently-dead wife.
I like to think I’m saving someone’s life.

From No Map Could Show Them (Chatto & Windus, 2016. Reproduced with permission from the author). Helen Mort reads as part of the Hive South Yorkshire event at Grimm & Co, 2 Doncaster Gate, Rotherham, S65 1DJ on Monday 22 May, and also leads a workshop for young writers at Grimm & Co on the same day. Click here for details of the workshop, and here for details of the reading.