LIKE MY MOTHERS FACE
It still trammels my dreams, leaving you, my eight-year-old child,
In that stiff, forsaken hospital bed, under the foreign watch of nurses;
The ward a haunted train tunnel, their night-station a ghosted engine;
Your room of hungry isolation, an abandoned, broken carriage.
That first night I slipped away, the sky was pitch blacker than I'd ever known,
And once I'd skirted off the glare of the motorway into the stone-walled lanes,
Before the eyes of the village were upon me again,
I wept into the wind-screen; I screamed 'Why? Why?'
I felt your yelp of 'Mummy'
In every bone as I fell asleep,
The distance between us
Ringing in my ears like an air-raid siren.
By the time I'd found a shelter in my prayers, you had survived.
I railed against the machines that hooked you in those doctored lines,
But maybe, like part of myself, you had already left, you had already been pillaged,
And, blind to my own need for a dear daughter to dress and tend,
I let go of you too soon.
As if through these words, now indexed,
Repeating patterns on an empty page,
I too, in a puff of smoke,
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