Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Notorious Veins

thing clapp
-ing its
hands see

the small
screen see
it pulses
it claps
its ti
-ny hands

like nost-
rils go in

no, not a
baby, love,
not hands
this is

a beating


he says the buzzer whoops like a small siren and then there’s the running and the voices crying out like they do in a rugby match ‘come on, Tony, you can do it’, then something slapping on skin and the distant sound of clapping ‘Tony, come on’


he says
when it’s quiet
the nurse comes and sits 
in the chair by his bed
Beth in pink fimo on her
chest, and
she slips off her shoe
and rubs the ball of her
bad foot


one night she talks about how the chopper
brought Tony in with his cap still on his head,
and when she took it off he’d blinked so fast
she thought he would never stop

he’d wanted to talk about the two women he loved
and how neither of them knew,
and two sons that disappointed,
and his one wish that he’d taken up flying

I wanted to fly too, my father says
he said to Beth, and he told her about sitting
all the exams but how he was too tall
for the plane so he had to go to Africa


another night, he describes the smell of Erinmore Flake
when he opened the tin: all honey and smokey – taking
that first fingerful – packing it into the bowl of his pipe


other facts he shares while Beth kneads her foot:

the dark high ceilings of the kafenion off Syndagma Square
where his father played cards, the Greek record my mother
was playing when they first met, the children and grandchildren:
their names, the colour of their hair

lastly, his disappointing veins – the way they refuse
to yield blood no matter who tries


(I know none of this for a fact, I’m only guessing)


we see Beth with her trolley:  
she walks with us to my father’s
cubicle – you must be Mary
the writer, she says, and this
is your daughter, Isabel

when we reach the bed,
the fimo badge heaves
on the mountainous bosom,
and she takes his arm

with its notorious veins, and slips
in the needle no trouble at all –
I know you, her fingers say,
I know the


Mary McCallum

For more Tuesday Poems click on the quill in the sidebar. The hub poem is Alistair Te Ariki Campbell's To Stuart chosen by editor Robert Sullivan. 


Melissa Green said...

Mary, this is exquisite.

Helen Lowe said...

Very cool poem, Mary. I like a lot.

Catherine said...

I really like this, the detail is fantastic (even the bits you say you made up!)

Rachel Fenton said...

Really blurring the boundaries there with flash and poetry - excellent.