by Emily Berry

When the new room was built my mother showed me What To Do In Case Of Fire. There were four metal rungs embedded in the balcony wall: this was the escape route. She did not show me (then) the other one.

What happened was, my mother was very very sad. She was so sad she could not hold up her head, she could not sit down, she could not lie down, she could not see out of the dark, my very sad mum.


In the course of my research I learned a new kind of love. This lesson taught me to pray. I made a prayer for my mother. By ‘prayer’ I mean a meditation on a want that can never be answered. A prayer for the dead alive inside the living. That’s what it is to burn a flame. We were in the darkest days of winter, approaching the celebration of light.

I watched the white men in their pastel coats / Roll you up and put you away / They put you inside their white box / With its clicks and locks / And carried you far away