GROWING UP BEFORE TIME.

You stood outside
the ABC cinema
with Helen looking
at the framed photographs

of the stills
from the film
then showing
she clutching her doll

Battered Betty
you standing there
pointing out
the main characters

my old man said
he’d take me
to see this
on Saturday

you said
Helen rocked Betty
in her arms
I hope our child

doesn’t call you
old man
she said
maybe he won’t

you replied
it might be a she
Helen said
sure it might

you said
you gave Betty a look
as she hung there
in Helen’s arms

you looked back
at the photo stills
putting your hands
in the pockets

of your jeans
maybe
you can take me
to the cinema

when we are older
Helen said
and we can sit
at the back

like those grown ups do
and kiss
you sensed her hand
touch your arm

and rub it up
and down
Betty moving
as Helen’s arm moved

sure
you said
long as I can still see
the movie

Helen handed you Betty
and you took
your hands out
of your pockets

and held her gingerly
like she might go
crap on you
and Helen put

a hand in her pocket
and pulled out
a few coins
I might have enough

here for some fries
she said
ok
you replied

and you walked
beside Helen
along the New Kent Road
to the Neptune’s fish shop

holding Battered Betty
carefully against
your cowboy shirt
the one your mother

bought you
for your birthday
the year before
Helen talked

of children’s names
and you thought
of the Wild West
and cowboy games.

GROWING UP BEFORE TIME.

Terry Collett

Horsham, United Kingdom

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