The nurse says they should’ve given me a line-in
the first time, straight to my heart.
Now the veins in my arm grow hard.
FEC chemo is the worst, she says.
We’ll sort it for next time. Then you won’t have me
here again. She smiles, meaning
there’ll be no more need to check
if FEC is leaking into tissue. I busy myself,
in the bubble of my pastel recliner,
move through settings for legs and back,
look out across the bow of this sterile ship,
thankful it looks so effortless, on course,
most scrolling phones, heated pillows
propping up wrists, loved ones sat crooked
on hard chairs. All of us watched over
by the daytime TV personalities smiling
their synchronised blessings from three screens,
and the tea trolley keeps on doing the rounds.
This could be some starship old people’s home,
where we’ve paid good money to be drip-fed youth,
but most of us are too young to look the part.
I forget where we are when a little boy
from another ward whizzes in
with a bald head and aeroplane arms.
We hold everything in,
everything up. That is, unless
we’re showing everything off.
Then we’re plunged to half-cupped,
nothing but bravado, barely
the areola covered up. Some
can’t run without us, we start them
young in training sizes. But
when we’re not strapped on,
we’re just two fabric cups, no use
for carrying much, costing a lot.
But not for those who laugh
at the idea of us, or look on us
with mistrust. And there are those
for whom, once we meant
something else, now we hide
of what they’ve lost.
Vicky Morris’ poems have appeared in places like The Rialto, Poetry Wales, Under the Radar and The Interpreter’s House. She won first place in the Aurora Prize for Poetry 2020, and the Prole Laureate Competition 2019, and is a recent Arvon Jerwood mentee for poetry working with Hannah Lowe. Twitter @VickyMWriter