My Mother Quit Bread

By Cecilia Knapp

and yes, I let a man who sometimes loved me
flip me onto my stomach, pennies falling from his jeans.

I considered the sea,
salting my brother’s eczema.

You’re someone’s son, I thought,
as he went to town on me, how hilarious.

The picture of my mother people love most
is the one where she’s wearing washing up gloves.

I’ve lost count of the men.
My skin, a glowing pig.

Grandad used to kick Granny around the farm.
Men will calm down in the end, she said,

keep quiet. Bad husbands can become good
but dead women can only ever be dead.

When dad left mum, mum cited
not enough bonking.

The woman he left her for wore
linen shirts. If a mother is absent,

her daughter becomes a scab
on an elbow, a wild, wet ruby.

The aunties in my family
tapped their teeth knowingly

before destroying a fresh pack
of ready salted crisps.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

From Peach Pig (Little, Brown Book Group Ltd, 2022) by Cecilia Knapp.