When I returned I was different. I was cold all the time,
wore wool against my skin. The shock of the cold
carried with me into summer. I could not leave the two bar
heater; the layers plied on. Some fear came up with me
in the recovery room, where my teeth chattered and the nurses
hurried to find a blanket of foil; leant in to monitor my eyes.
I think I left something no lost and found can contain
under the desk, or behind the locked door where no mouth can ask
for a red umbrella or gaily checked scarf.
I wandered around in hats and long velvet skirts, black
to keep the heat. I bundled up and my doctor said, ‘You’re so thin
there’s nothing of you.’
And he said later, ‘They’ll put you in a ward and shock you.’
And that shocked me.
And later I saw him driving a yellow Volkswagen, top down,
with children in the back licking ice creams.
3rd place winner in The Troubadour Poetry Prize 2014 – judged by Neil Astley and Amy Wack.
They don’t do it anymore,
breathe into the mouth to save.
We had learnt it reluctantly,
lined up beside a recumbent dummy,
waiting to take our turn to kneel at that mouth.
The simplest things disturb –
at night when the fluoros shut off and the cover is pulled,
the tiles swabbed – there it lies open,
not even a ventriloquist’s dummy
is so exposed.
2nd place winner in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2015 – judged by Tristram Fane-Saunders and Holly Howitt-Dring.