September in a heat wave
as the mist burns up
the morning sun.
You worry about
our stream horse
lost in the fog.
It’s been a summer
of not touching the ground.
Now I’m back in the hospital
with the taste of winter
at the back of my throat.
She talks through drawings
of a smaller me,
the impossible made possible,
You ask me if it hurts,
only when you wake up I say,
only when you wake up.
Superman in the sun.
The sky a vast stretch
of sapphire summer.
We dig for white gold
in the shallow waves,
feed chocolate biscuits
to the seagulls. You help
dig a tunnel to the sea.
The afternoon is made of
sandcastles and smiles.
A perfect picture postcard
of a holiday, a little boy
playing in paradise.
We drive back
through broken clouds.
The waiting room hits me
with the last time I sat
on this plastic chair.
A bad feeling,
a very, very bad feeling,
a crab crawling in my gut.
She shows me photographs
of what’s no longer there.
It’s been a year since nothing
spun the room around.
I am summer speckled,
sand in my toes, scarred
like a star fish, but I still
have the sun on my face.
The house is empty. The rain murmuring
against the wall, slicing down
in sheets of green grey mist.
A single bird wings through cloud.
There is a song that comes from being alone.
The percussion patter on the roof,
the drumming of the lark.
These moments of pause,
when there is little choice but to rest,
are full to the brim with distant thunder.
I am the ghost of myself and yet in this absence,
this removal of birth, there is a phoenix
curled inside a cocoon of ash.
A streak of fire that will cut the sky in two.
The ghosts are cooing
in the broken arms
of their mothers.
They pour their afterlife
into bottles of sleep.
Leaves carefully labelled
as armour. Brown trousers
and a sky for a t-shirt.
Hair sculpted into a time machine,
teeth stuck to the wall.
A monster packed into a bag,
dinosaur shoes. The metal doors
of an education. Strapped in,
not sure where the routine has gone.
Kisses blown across the desert,
come home, come home, come home.
The echo of a hospital,
mornings stitched back together.
A wood pigeon whacks against the window,
a misjudgement of flight. My own body
balances on the edge of the bed,
moving is now a negotiation.
My throat is swollen with shock,
my insides do not feel lighter.
Four white squares are the key
to what is gone. I wake to searing heat
and a story about a medieval dungeon at 3am.
You can’t sleep. You want me to be who I was.
I can’t promise that but as we listen
to the birds breaking open the dawn,
their voices an Easter choir, a mini resurrection,
I think my skin is the shell of a brand new day.
Inside is a sky streaked with roses,
petals falling soft as rain. Feathers found,
wet with dew, in the long grass.
So here I am, fragile in white stockings,
a sketch of a time lord as the rain
sweeps down. You ask me
if I was dead. On the television,
a woman is searching for her son.
There is such darkness in the world.
You snuggle in ever so carefully,
the smell of your Thomas the Tank engine PJs.
All those beautiful young boys
dancing into the night,
now blood and sirens and unanswered texts.
Such hatred, such cruelty.
You paint me frozen in time and space,
magic flowers that give birth to baby dinosaurs.
You tell me you’re waiting and waiting
and waiting for me to get better.
I kiss your cheek. We are here, we are safe.
You tell me the Doctor will save Gallifrey.
You in your penguin pyjamas in the garden
on a beautiful evening as the sunshine
dissolves into summer mist.
You tell me you’re scared of the sky,
it’s too big, too far away.
I carry you inside, curled into my neck,
at the end of a long day. You tell me
you want to keep the flowers forever,
never say bye bye to the grass.
I promise you it will all
still be there in the morning.
This is the promise I am fighting to keep
through phone calls to the hospital
and the cancellation of appointments,
the rebooking of surgical consultation,
plastic implants, the removal of organs.
I tuck you under your Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory duvet,
read you a story about robber dogs
who give up a life of crime
to become super bakers.
There is hope for us all.