“Are you from DMU or Leicester Uni?”

Includes references to disease and perhaps death in the family.

(after John Osborne)

She asked me “are you from DMU or Leicester Uni?
Because I’ve seen you around,
but the other day when on Queens Road
I happened to see you from afar”.
Flattery aside, it made me wonder
what was she exactly doing on Queens Road,
knowing that the people from West End
believe Victoria Park is an ocean.
I wonder how did she manage to get lost,
fall asleep on the bus and wake up
in the south side of town.
Maybe her grandma lives in this other country
named Clarendon Park?
So she goes to visit and feed her,
every once in awhile.
Spends the afternoon dusting off doilies
in nan’s Montague Road semi-detached.
She prepares tea and bakes scones
with gluten-free flour
because nan’s indigestion
has recently gone too far.
In fact, maybe the time she saw me
she was coming back from the Infirmary
to collect some of nan’s belongings
before a week in observation.
“Get me my knitting bag, love”,
she asked her.
“I need to finish these cosies for Easter”,
but her grandchild was wondering if Glory Sunday would see her
and if Good Friday would actually be very, very bad
as the tumour, they said, had extended from stomach to spleen.
So that day, although her brain was elsewhere,
in a millisecond she noticed me
and maybe wondered all these things,
better or worse,
and fantasised about my studies and bearing.
So to her question I replied “I study nowhere”,
but then I thought “I study people.
I study everywhere”.

Originally published in Welcome to Leicester, edited by Emma Lee and Ambrose Musiyiwa for Black Dahlia Press.