“Alice isn’t Here Today”

Ann Jacob

Alice isn’t here today

No, no -for she has hidden herself away

inside the cupboard under the stair

so no-one knows that she is there.

“I’m hiding here so you can’t see

I am not who you think me to be;

and as I sit in my private cell

surrounded by the musty smell

of dusty vacuum-cleaner bags

and waxy lavender polish rags,

the bristles of the hard stair brush

prick into my arm from the orderly crush

of household implements stored away.

They will think I am out to play.

The rim of light around the door

defines the darkness even more,

only relieved by the dimmish glow

from my bicycle lamp, so no-one will know

that I’m sitting here on the hard tool box.

My legs are itched by long Scout socks

pinched with the shorts from my brother’s drawer.

I munch on a juicy apple core.

In the shorts pocket a forgotten sweet

gives a cellophane rustle – a welcome treat:

a soft centred ‘Minto’ of peppermint flavour

so handily left for me to savour,

as I read by my torch’s feeble light

tales of bravery and might.

I HATE my hairband and long hair –

I want it short – its just not fair!

I HATE my growing rounder figure –

don’t WANT my bosom to get bigger.

Maybe I could bind it back

to stop it growing, keep it flat,

and work instead on rippling muscle?

Outside the door I hear mealtime bustle –

‘Alice, come it’s time for tea’.

I do not answer, I am not she,

For I am really a boy you see.

Oh why can they not understand

that i was s’posed to be a man?

I wish that ‘she’ could go away.

No, Alice is not here today.”

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