Sickness in the Family
There is sickness in the family:
in the martyred mother’s cervical hump
the droop of the harried father’s eye
the retreat of the big sister into bed —
(the whispers are that it’s all in her head).
That the soft young nurse couldn’t
stand to hold another dying hand
that the father’s face is a Dali clock
palsied behind a pirate patch
that the little girl won’t come out
to play because mother’s head is bad today
and that she died three times giving birth to you
and her dazzled spirit only just withdrew…
So silence; still; be very good;
this world must not be tested.
Else sister’s cells will harm themselves
father’s face will elongate
mother’s brittle heart will break —
and all because of you.
head bowed above
on bare knees kneeling
beside the bed
while charged pen shrieks
like words could save
and inside cleft chest
my fish-heart left
to desiccate in prayer—
They used to be joyful
the pictures of babies
used to pertain to me.
But today my belly is swollen with portent
and I note with unease
that my haruspex is a man.
Female seers are reserved for life
and I am an obedient bag of death,
viscera spread on the gritty screen
waiting to be read.
The ancient technician gives no indication;
although he seems a little kinder
on the way out than
on the way in…
Later — the children rolling
like pups in the ocean of my bed —
we point at the funny photos
of mummy’s insides and say — look,
it’s those black spots that are the problem.
*First published in Bluepepper, 2014
Michele Seminara is a poet, yoga teacher and editor from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Bluepepper, Tincture Journal, Regime, Seizure, Plumwood Mountain and Social Alternatives. She is also the managing editor of online creative arts journal Verity La. She blogs at http://micheleseminara.wordpress.com/ and is on twitter @SeminaraMichele