Birthdays in November


Fireworks in the garden
burst into shooting stars
in awe at the red blue green rockets
of just turned three year olds
who dance for musical chairs
and the many layers of pass the parcel.
They hug and tumble and fight
over Paw Patrol cars as we look on
in the secret gasp of wonder
that they have made it this far,
that they are walking, talking little people.

As the sky explodes with their laughter,
I think please let me be here for this.
Whatever they need to cut
from the Catherine Wheel of my body,
whatever needs to be stripped
from the Guy Fawkes betrayal
of my inheritance, it does not matter
as long as I can still hold a little boy’s hand
and hear the intake of his breath
as it sparkles with life.

Ghost Signs


The wall is the shadow of a ghost
advertising the repair of fountain pens,
a long lost art now that we all steal biros.
The letters are faded to a whimsical grey
that whispers of a time of calligraphy
when we still painted our own wounds.

I feel perhaps I’m peeling too,
the flakes of chemical snow falling down.
The letters that say book blood tests,
no mention of what for.
The appointments to explain
my intimate history of disaster.

I cannot read my own warnings.
The symptoms are obscure
and the typography of surgery
haunts my small hours.
My DNA is written in a language
I do not speak, the swirls of mutations
that spell a future written backwards.

I don’t know how to translate my body,
even though they tell me I can be reconstructed.
A mural repainted brighter, bolder,
a clearer message for all to see.
Yet I sense the past scars will still be there
under layers and layers of medical science.

I never knew it would be so hard
to read the writing on the wall.