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.

Crying,

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.


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