Song of my auntie

by Susannah Hart

o auntie of the Kodak Christmases
my auntie of the bread and Marmite rosehip syrup teas
o auntie who told me at twelve I had childbearing hips
auntie whose own hips bore so many children
my five red-headed cousins
o auntie only sister of your dead brother
my little shrinking auntie my tiny auntie with her hair all white
my pocket-sized ornamental auntie
o auntie of the cheques and the politeness
and the Church of England hassocks
my auntie who cuts the heads off whitebait
who finds New Year’s Eve maudlin
my unsentimental auntie my auntie who won’t fly
o auntie my auntie my misremembered auntie
shared bloodline auntie Carnation milk auntie
o auntie whose mother was the same as my father’s
practical auntie with looped pads and belts
who asked tiny cousins if they’d moved their bowels yet
o auntie late married after nursing
fecund and dutiful auntie
fourteen-year-old auntie choosing her father
in court because her brother had chosen their mother
o sacrificial auntie o noble auntie o good citizen
auntie who never swears who turns the telly off
if there’s sex who asks if people really do that
my counterpane auntie my candlewick auntie
my auntie of the hospital corners
o kind friend to his widow taker-in of lost families
my knotted handkerchief auntie my knee-high auntie
o auntie my auntie