I used to love
the virginal, the perfection.
Knowing I was the first
to explore the scent:
crisp, white and clean;
the paper-cut sharpness.
Knowing I was the first
to know.

Carefully. Gently.
I push him back
with great effort
not to
break his spine.

Now I desire
Bent double,
like old beggars’ books,
I crease each spine
my smile sodden with guilt.

Careless in my hand’s grip
I drop and he half-drowns
in bubbles and dark bath-water.
Fished out to drip-
dry on dirty-white and dusty radiators;
or stretched out
by tall molten candles
with fire aspirations.
Awakening and
Curling edges allow movement
free from my fingers.
Water gave him life
beyond words. Breathing.
Ringed with crusty tea-stains,
almost circles.
Not perfect circles.
But perfectly intrusive.
Indelibly stained.


© Hayley Shields 2009


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