Thursday, 10 November 2016

A poem by Elizabeth Gibson

As the darkness fell


Red spots, ink stains on your back became a
flowing stream; fear in my mouth, my legs, as I
ran upstairs the way I would always run after my
big brother but there was no man to hold me,
hold us, when the darkness fell.

You sat in the office with Mr Jump, holding his
soft green body, bandy legs dangling. You knew
something was wrong but you were serene. Emily
bounced about and then came to cuddle you, eight
condescending to six as the darkness fell.

If I thought you would be like saintly invalids
in books I was gladly wrong. You taunted your
sister, black spots beneath your eyes, as she
scratched her head furiously and screamed at you
and all seemed okay as the darkness fell.

Trawling through the zoo with a buggy – mine?
No, it was your cousin who slept, oblivious
to the treat that I had dragged myself out to
bestow upon her. The giraffes didn’t impress you
either, as the darkness fell.

You turned seven and we celebrated in the garden,
your long legs making waves in the grass and Emily
rocked her chair and told you not to rock yours
and the bad meat made her sick but you were
spared, thank God, as the darkness fell.

You went back to school and did well but you
were never like them; never loud, clever, fast.
But you survived, your summer hat perched over
your new curls and my psoriasis erupted and
I didn’t give a damn as the darkness fell.

When the thunder crashed you listened, rapt, while
Emily stood trembling. We watched all night and
she seemed okay, I couldn’t be sure but separating
you would be wrong and taking you from what you
loved would be a sin as the darkness fell.

You couldn’t eat a thing, you said, you cried when
I tried to make you, you were sick and sick and sick
and the doctor looked at me and shook his head and
I knew that was it. How I longed to feed you from a
banquet of the gods as the darkness fell.

The white of the bed, the sheets, as we stand looking
at Emily who will give her cells for you, who is smiley
as ever, cheeks full of colour and you are white and
thin and I know this is our last chance and I love you,
I love you as the darkness falls.

Today, my darling, you will get new marrow and get
better; you will run wild, two little girls keeping up
with one another how it was meant to be. Tomorrow
all will be well so I will say goodnight and hold
you tight as the darkness falls.






Elizabeth Gibson is a Masters student at the University of Manchester and a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival. She is a member of Writing Squad 8 and has work published or forthcoming in The Cadaverine, London Journal of Fiction, Far Off Places, Myths of the Near Future, The Mancunion, Octavius, Severine and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.

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