her boys

towards the end

of this tract of row homes

lives an older lady

gently frail bent

she looks after us

her boys she calls us

as we are weak & feeble

men in the world

but never man enough for her

we are the straw men

shadow hollow men

playing out our boy games

struggling to get on

while she

has raised four children

had three difficult births

buried two husbands

these dying of cancers

after long wasting illness

where they slowly shrank away

so we do her chores

drink tea with her & listen

& wait

while she dictates

what we can

& cannot