The ceramics teacher wanted to make mothers of us,
‘Make yourself in your image,’
and we all got to work, squeezing these wet slabs,
pressing, thumbing, stretching lids
over eyes, strands over scalps,
building a mirror from the dust
that layered every hand.
Back from the kiln, the ward, its birthing heat,
and I felt horror: this head, me (once),
stared up from a Morrison’s bag, split lips
like a wound over clay teeth,
hair grafted over cold skin.
A Darwinist likeness, smiling out,
asking for a lick of paint to slip
some human back.
I yelped at Mum to stuff it up
in the attic, amongst the empty webs,
amongst the shell of an old wasp’s nest,
shelved away like a forgotten book,
lazily propping a stringless guitar.
The mimic found itself dug up years later,
embalmed in soot, ageing only where
the creak of the house stole a hunk of ear,
and in seeing this ghoul part of me thinks
it contains more of me than
scattered thumbprints and dented eyes,
cut to completion but never complete,
and years beyond recognition.