Carolyn King lives on the Isle of Wight. Her poetry has won competitions, been published in magazines and cast in bronze in public places. She reads both on and off the Island, has three self-published collections – with a fourth currently seeking a publisher.
I haven't seen him since the operation: major, he tells me–
the whole right foot sliced open like a ripe peach.
I remember soccer practice long before fervour led
to serious injury; lusty kicks from a new child-prodigy –
unborn striker, matchless –playing extra time.
He says they yanked the stitches out today –
like a football bootlace –one excruciating pull; the pain
was indescribable. I remember –hope the outcome
will be worth the agony (it was for me!) –
hearing the victory cry and seeing crumpled leather
smoothed, as on a last, into surprisingly familiar features;
counting fingers, toes and lucky stars;
caressing sturdy little feet (alive and kicking!) –
perfect as fresh-plucked peaches, un-desecrated
by the surgeon’s knife.
I should be there for him, cleansing his scar,
soothing with oils, healing with kisses,
bandaging his hurt in soft white linen.
Now the umbilical cord is a telephone line:
I say, "Add salt to the bath-water" – exalt
its healing powers: remind him that I’m speaking
Images of another mother flood my mind,
a sweet juice dripping, viscous, through her sticky fingers,
salt tears flowing into an open wound,
bathing her first-born’s ravaged feet
with a compassion tearing at my heart,
her tender ministrations rendered fruitless.
Caviare and Chips, Human Writes, 2004, ISBN 0 9531860 2 4, £5.99 (from Carolyn)
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