He was seven and I was six, my Brendon Gallacher.
He was Irish and I was Scottish, my Brendon Gallacher.
His father was in prison; he was a cat burglar.
My father was a communist party full-time worker.
He had six brothers and I had one, my Brendon Gallacher.
He would hold my hand and take me by the river
where we’d talk all about his family being poor.
He’d get his mum out of Glasgow when he got older.
A wee holiday some place nice. Some place far.
I’d tell my mum about my Brendon Gallacher
how his mum drank and his daddy was a cat burglar.
And she’d say, ‘Why not have him round to dinner?’
No, no, I’d say, he’s got big holes in his trousers.
I like meeting him by the burn in the open air.
Then one day after we’d been friends two years,
One day when it was pouring and I was indoors,
My mum says to me, ‘I was talking to Mrs Moir
who lives next door to your Brendon Gallacher
Didn’t you say his address was 24 Novar?
She says there are no Gallachers at 24 Novar
There never have been any Gallachers next door.’
And he died then, my Brendon Gallacher,
flat out on my bedroom floor, his spiky hair,
his impish grin, his funny, flapping ear.
Oh Brendon. Oh my Brendon Gallacher.
from Darling: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2007), © Jackie Kay 2007, used by permission of the author and the publisher. Poem featured in the Poetry Archive's BBC 100 Collection.