One of these mums is not like the others
by Michèle Alter Brenton

Other people’s mums wear normal clothes
drive normal cars, teach normal subjects.

Other people’s mums cook normal food
and don’t sing songs loudly while shopping.

Other people’s mums have a routine.
You know where you are with other people’s mums.

My mum wakes me at midnight,
gets me dressed to go for a walk;
down the road, round the corner,
up the hill to the dark spooky churchyard

My mum holds my hand as we
pick our way through silvered gravestones,
hear an owl, shiver from the scariness,
then laugh for being silly.

My mum lets me eat candies
as we walk back home
then she tucks me back in bed
whispering, “Happy Halloween.”

PHOTO: The author at about age six reluctantly participating in “dressing up” with her brothers, during either 1966/1967 in the back garden of their home in Swansea, South Wales.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mum was and has always been someone who stands out from the crowd. Back then it was called “eccentricity,” “being highly strung,” and “being sensitive,” and my mum’s individual outlook on life combined with her being the head of the RE (Religious Education) department — not (thank goodness) at the school I went to — was seen as charming and cool. I reacted by spending much of my childhood desperately trying to blend in by being as “square” as could be imagined. In fact, the characters of Saffy and Edina in Absolutely Fabulous have always reminded me of me and my mum.  I think I was about six or seven when she promised to wake me up on Halloween just before midnight so we could go along and see if there were any ghosts. We had/have far more in common than I’ve liked to admit, and one of those things is an insatiable curiosity and a sneaky wish that ghosts and fairies and mythological creatures and aliens really truly exist. We were geeks and nerds before such things had been named and our favourite TV shows were Star Trek and Samantha. I can’t remember if my brothers came along to the graveyard too. In my memory of the adventure, it is just me and my mum in the moonlight waiting for the ghosts. It was a school night too. The poem was written a few years ago for a Halloween prompt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Exactly 47 years after Dylan Thomas and within a few hundred feet of the same spot, Michèle Brenton was born. In 2001, she was paid for a poem to appear in an anthology for children but has since learned such things are as rare as a blue moon and is delighted, surprised, and honoured when someone likes her work enough to include it in a publication. As @banana_the_poet she was voted the most popular human poet by the Twitter community in 2011.