Wide eyes fixated on the bright light of the ceiling illuminator,
Her jerky answers slap and echo over cold ceramic.
The bowl of worms twitch,
Seethe against each other, perceiving
The resonance as hopeless insanity.
She shifts, nails scratching the pale floor,
Awaiting the dread, the inexorable
Question she will pose to herself.
The blood drops from her once red lips;
Falls, cat-lands, with silent splash.
It brings colour to her world,
And the bewilderment jarres her mind.
She screams furiously,
Hitting her head on cold ceramic,
And with a veined fist.
She passes out again,
Continues to bleed,
I'll tell you what does hurt, says the man
with the tattoo on his lips,
the man with the safety pin through his eyelid - this,
and he shows me a scar where a nipple
should have been, points to a picture of a girl,
of a weird earring.
That's nothing, says the anorexic whose husband
left her for someone thinner, whose fridge
is full of rotting food, whose certificates
from a school of gourmet cooking still
cling to the walls - let me show you
the mother of a girl whose unborn child
is dead inside her, then we'll talk
about misery. Well done,
says another, that gets right there -
and she coughs, trying to get the fly
out of the hole in her throat. It's
my turn. I feel incompetent. All
I have, I say, is this, holding up
a poem about a cat up a tree, about
a little boy's tears and the cold hungry wind.
First, nothing - then,
That'll do, they say, leading
me by the hand to where it's warm.