The neighbour’s cat gave birth
under our bed.
As good a place as any, we thought,
in the old empty suitcase
father brought home
after the war.
Four black-and-white smudged kittens
wriggled blindly in a smell of birth.
We wanted to pet them,
my brother and I, and I remember a hand,
his or mine – it doesn’t matter –
pulled back sharply
with three points of blood, a hiss.
Then the grownups came
and decided their futures.
The suitcase moved out
and nothing left. The stains
scrubbed away with carbolic soap.
Today I smell that whiff again,
remember the dark stair,
and every night a new mouse –
no wonder she chose our bed.
There were worse places
to bring up a family.
Colin Will is a Dunbar-based poet and publisher, with six collections published, the most recent being The Propriety of Weeding (Red Squirrel Press, 2012). His publishing house, Calder Wood Press, specialises in poetry pamphlets.