The Registrar’s Office

isn’t really an office it’s a cupboard with
no source of natural light, and I don’t
realise it but I’m loved up like the other
mothers gazing at meconium as if it’s fresh tar
on a road not an odourless, black shit
that’s been on the boil for nine months
and Lydia, that’s the registrar’s name, she
gives me a paper cone of iced water from
the dispenser to calm me down and it
does calm me, the water flows through
me and now we’re holding each other while
Simon’s down in the mortuary and I tell
her all about how he lost his mother from
a brain tumour when I was six months
gone, how her name was Lydia too, that
it was so quick and now this.
We’re still holding on when he comes back
then joins us in a circle of three and even
another form to fill in can’t sober me up
as the morphine unpeels another mezzanine
of hell in a shopping centre where women
with rigid quiffs and rouged cheeks glide
up and down glass escalators and
people believe in the faux marble fountains
although it’s all really a shimmering
colon. Anyway, I’m determined, I say,
as I leave the room, when I get out of here, if
it’s the last thing I do, I will get you
a window because that’s not right, expecting
someone to live and work and sign
death certificates without a window, no-one
should have to put up with that, it’s not
right, she’s a good person with
a good heart, she should have a window.

From An Aviary of Small Birds. Reproduced with kind permission from Carcanet.