I picture you, on his winning nights
as he upturns boxes of julabies
that curl like sticky heaps of question marks
asking for the chance of one of his smiles.
Shaken awake beneath a roulette moon
you join your mother, brothers, sisters, him
under the single kerosene lantern.
Your job to stay behind, clear up the crumbs.
I can only bring you small gifts each time:
an embroidered card for this, your birthday.
Take it: this is yours to keep forever.
by Joanna Ezekiel, from Homecoming (£7.99, £2.99 Kindle)
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