We agreed to draw a picture of each other.

You went first while I cooked tea.

You held up the outline: a long thin oval and

then for the eyes –

high on the face: two shining long-lashed conkers –

things were looking up.

Quickly, then, a nose and some lips which you coloured pillar-box red,

smiling, about a hundred tiny careful teeth inside.


Then you started to add the lines:

to get the four long stripes across the forehead,

you had to press down hard.

Your eyes flicked fast from face to page as you rendered

two deep grooves from nose to mouth.



‘That’s lovely, darling,’ I said, and I promised to put

the mirror you’d made me on the fridge.



Later, it was my turn.

I sat alone with the box of colours,

trying my best to get the plump of your cheek,

the big brown brights of your eyes.

My nose on your face and your daddy’s mouth.


The tangled thicket of your hair, as hard to tame as ever.

I coloured you in with love and felt-tipped pens

of peach and pink and brown and showed it to you, quite proud.

‘That’s lovely, mummy,’ you said,

‘who is it?’