Another box of nipples arrived today
The hospital computer’s gone mad
– that’s the third box this week.
You stick them on the fridge door,
the phone, the handle of the kettle.
And we laugh. Then you are sick again.
This evening you sit in your usual chair
in the bloat of chemo, your breath really
bothering you. And me, if truth be told.
You are darning pullovers neither of us
ever wear – and even Oxfam won’t take.
What if I could give you a new pair?
That will always pass the pencil test, even
at 90; with dark areolae and pert
tips that tilt cheekily, but don’t
show through your tennis dress.
You are muttering about camels
and licking the thread for the nth time;
specs half-way down – in your usual chair.
I don’t see hacked-at womanhood,
that you’ve sobbed salt-herring barrels for.
I see you. Darning your way to normality.
(previously published in The Thousand Natural Shocks,
and in anthologies by Bloodaxe, Indigo Dreams and Templar Poetry.)
Char March has won loads of awards for her poetry, short fiction, and as a playwright. Her credits include: five poetry collections including The Thousand Natural Shocks (Indigo Dreams Publishing); six BBC Radio 4 plays; and seven stage plays. She is regularly published in literary magazines, and in poetry and short fiction anthologies. She grew up in industrial Scotland, and now lives in the Yorkshire Pennines. She has been active in the Disability Politics Movement throughout her adult life.