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Poetry Poem for a 1960s Welfare State Childhood, by Josephine Corcoran

Each night I fell asleep in our council house
with no thought in my head that someone
would want to take away our home.
We moved rooms and beds depending on
who was ill, or home from college or work.
I took possession of the landing for play,
and the hallway, and windowsills painted gloss
to slide along, line-up my family of dolls.
I was given everything: school meals, milk, juice,
uniform vouchers, bus fares, books from the library.
The man on my doorstep with a blue rosette
tells me I have it wrong. It’s luck I’ve grown up
strong, secure, even when my world unravelled.
I’m misremembering how cared-for I felt.
And consider the cost!
I let him keep his leaflet
and tell my children how my sister gave me
her beautiful coat, two sizes too big. 
‘You’ll grow,’ she said
fastening me into love and my future.

Josephine Corcoran has published a poetry book with Nine Arches Press, What Are You After?


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