Sunday, 30 April, 2023 in Culture, Music

Matilda In The Middle by Katy Lironi – Chapter 10



My scar leaks where the 2 car seats sit
in the suddenly tight-fitting living room,
bearing the new twin rulers
Of this overegged roost.

What have we done? my unvoice thinks,
What have we become?

I sit silently among and out with
this commotion we have created
between us.
I notice my sister is still here.
Scared to look at her in case she disappears
“I’ll stay tonight” I think I hear
before deflating in silent thanks.

The 5 year old leaps court jester-like
Over the precious-bundle car seats,
A puppy,
a look at me, look at me, look at me now! boy.
The babies float,
Safe in sleep-land,
beneath his crazed feet, unaware.

The 6 year old wants
To wake them.
To snuggle, to help, to have and to hold.
Calm, unfazed, she’s been here before.

The 2 year old
bangs her head hard off the wooden floor,
again and again in pre-speech confusion.
Words are an arduous up-hill hike,
but her signs are pure mime-artist delight.
And her actions yell help!
Why are we so blind?

One, two, three, four, five
I count these children
that are suddenly mine
and wonder when this extra-special
toddler of ours
will stop battering her head off the floor
and realise these babies are home to stay.
Forever changing the shape of this world
that won’t go away.

Auntie Jo saves the day when we bring the twin home from hospital



I can smell fear
slick on their skin,
glance panic
plain in their eyes
as they listen nervously
to the dual cries
of my newborn twins
riccocheting off
a vast and plastic nothingness,
the chaotic components of
Infants x 2, +3
that overburdens our lives.

The props:
2 baby car seats,
Double buggy,
2 baby gyms,
nappies galore.
Assorted siblings
poking and jumping,
clamouring for kisses,
and momentary acknowledgement
of their existence.
“Hello, who are you?”
I see my own terror
reflected in their eyes.
But I like to pretend
it’s all alright.

Standing at the cooker,
just one baby in my arms,
cacophonous yelps rising all  around,
stirring sauce for macaroni,
I see my life unfold.
Years of stirring and holding.
I take a deep breath,
sigh, smile, tingle and leak
all at once and all over.

“We’ll leave you to it…
See you’ve got your hands full…”
My ears grow sick of these tight lipped phrases
flung out of fast–retreating mouths.

Not many remembered to say
4 and 5 being numbers beyond

Once the gifts were given
Hasty retreats were bidden.
The doorbell soon fell silent,Lay unused,
And eventually broke.

Amelia with Flora


On popping out for milk

They want a bowl of cereal
Of course they do they don’t
Eat real food anymore
I’ll start, I say, each week
All eat the same one meal
7 people.
Forget your fads and foibles
Your allergies and bread free days
We’re going to eat the same
One pot 7 plates
And no one will throw a tantrum
Or a glass upon the ground
One of these days
We’re still snacking café style
One fried egg one tuna wrap
2 macaroni cheese
And a chicken stir fry please
Dad and I will eat later
So, yes, the cereal.

Shit! We have no milk
No cereal, we have no milk
I try in a sing song voice
The wails descend and
Immediately bend
my resolve
ok ok stop!
I’ll pop out to the shop
That means
A trip in the car
A trip in the car
Oh no no no no
My worst fear by far…
Ok ok … I will not raise my voice
I will not raise my voice
I am just a mum
With 5 small people
Getting into a car
To buy some bloody milk
For some stupid cereal
Ok, you 2 stay put
Watch TV don’t answer the door
Or the phone
Never say your mum’s not home
You 3 car!
Now shoes on feet
Go for a pee,
Ok, straight to the car
Up the stairs not the grass
Don’t run in next door’s flowers
I will not raise my voice
I will not shout in the street
I will smile so bright
For those I meet
Herd and gather
Herd and gather
My wayward lambs into the car
Strap and secure with
Nips and kicks, wails and
Agh! Just sit in the fucking seat!
Shit, did I say that
Out loud?
As the childless neighbour
Parked his car
Does sound travel outside cars?
My teeth are clenched…
Maybe I just screamed it
Inside my head?
What am I doing?
Where am I going?
1,2,3 shit! Where are 4 and 5?
Oh yes, 7 and 5 years old
Surely able to hold the fort
For 5 minutes?
Must get milk for cereal
Then everything will be ok
Must get milk for cereal
Ok, a trolley
2 in the seats
One standing in the trolley
Grabbing for treats
Milk, milk, milk
Hands flail, legs kick my
Starving stomach
I will eat at some
Dead of night unspecified time zone
When my hunger has gone home
Hello daddy
Yells the middle one
To each and every passing man
A new phrase that has stuck
And we’re so happy
That she has so beautifully
Strung 2 words together
I praise and whoop and grin
As men walk awkwardly, silently by
Ok, milk, let’s get it and go
Cholic! Cholic! Cholic!
Middle child again
Clambering from her pen
In a frenzy of recognition
Spying buttons from afar
We share a bag we 4 then escape
Back to the car
Not 5 minutes after all
But bloody half an hour
A 5 year old a 7 year old
Oh my god! Oh my god!
Heart beat racing did
The house spontaneously combust?
What have I done?
Rushing breathless to the door
Toddler, milk cartons
2 heavy babies
All crashing to the floor
Brother and sister sit silently
Undisturbed staring
At the magic screen
You ok? I try not to scream
They look at me from far away
Confused, slightly dazed
Then refocus on Mr somebody
Doing something marvellous with paint
So, cereal? I say brightly
As I turn to find the babies
Asleep on the hall floor
The toddler in the kitchen
Dangling from a cupboard
No concept yet of fear
Gulping head lice elixir
The home aloners shake
Their heads
We had some biscuits
You took too long
They accuse in unison
I scream,…
I think inside my head
Turn to the kitchen sink
Hold on tight and blink
The tears back where
They spring from
And breathe deep
You walk in the door
Hiya, how’s it going?
I scream, for real and loud and long
While you wonder
What went wrong

Dugald with Sonny


They were halcyon days
Weren’t they?
And somehow I always knew
They would seem that way
viewed from afar.

In the midst of the battlefield
It’s hard to enjoy
The night feeds
Nappy changes
Non-stop secretions
from me and them.
Someone always needing
Cuddled, sung to,
Rocked urgently with a feeling
Of suppressed rage
A hint of despair.
But the moments of bliss
Blot out all of this.|
Siblings throwing stones
In the burn
Searching for
Secret squirrel treats
Leaping from trees
On unsteady feet.

They smiled
They laughed
They played together
Between the tumult of
Kicking, punching, wrestling
The vying for position
In a house
bursting at the seams.

Halcyon Days


You looked pensive all day
Thinking of something
Out of reach
Grey and obscure
Then it came to you
In a flash
Or had you felt it forever?

“Why am I not your special girl?”
So calm and composed
7 years old
Large grey eyes
Full of question marks.

The question horrifies me,
the concept undoes me
And I know I’m to blame.

I hug you tight
Tell you all the right
Things –
You’re special, wonderful, unique
I love you beyond measure

“Why do you tell Matilda she’s so great
For staying in bed for one night?
I stay in my bed every night…
Why am I not special?
You never worry about me,
You shout “Where’s Matilda?!”
All the time, but
You never know where I am.
I got lost once.
You didn’t notice.”

She’s right.
She came after this one
Who demands more
Runs faster
Climbs higher
Will need all of us
Forever more.

But it doesn’t make her more special
even if our actions
Say otherwise.
She’s more needful
Of all of us
All of the time
Forever and ever
Which means her siblings
Just have to be
Something exceptional.
How to explain
To a 7 year old.
Just get on with our
Extra special lives
Hoping everything and everyone
Turns out alright.

The twins – each doing what they did best


Next Chapter

Chapter 1, Pt I,
Chapter 1, Pt II
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9






Katy Lironi

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