This is a poem which began as I waited in the queue at my local fish and chip shop, and I think waiting in a queue in a fish and chip shop is one of those moments when you have nothing to do, nothing you have to do, nothing you can do, you're sort of suspended with only things to watch and people to listen to and eavesdrop on. And you enter into your own private world of thinking and dreaming, which is what I did here. I love to watch the way the fish and chips are prepared, the way the women behind the counter are so fast and so skilful at doing this. So I was watching, and the poem began to rise to the surface. It's a poem that begins in that setting of the chip shop, and then moves somewhere entirely different, and back again.
Hands She peels cod fillets off the slab, dips them in batter, drops them one by one into the storm of hot fat. I watch her scrubbed hands, elegant at the work and think of the hands of the midwife stroking wet hair from my face as I sobbed and cursed, calling me Sweetheart and wheeling in more gas, hauling out at last my slippery fish of a son. He was all silence and milky blue. She took him away and brought him back breathing, wrapped in a white sheet. By then I loved her like my own mother. I stand here speechless in the steam and banter, as she makes hospital corners of my hot paper parcel.