Rough, then smooth.
To look at it is to feel it rolling up and down my arm,
the round taught back of the skull bone and the surprising front,
that broken nose
scratching my skin and then rolling over again
I imagine crunching it in my elbow,
its grooves like those of a barrel,
or the ribs of a bull terrier; always intact.
Holding a beating heart, or a brain, liquid,
it sits on the table, a disjointed head.
Push with one finger,
it lolls like a drunkard, stops,
its invisible eyes luring me to put my fingers in its sockets.
This is what we are, underneath our skin:
This frightened being, just a thick waxy case,
jaw bone wobbling, a scared geriatric
I cup it in my hands, protective,
so appreciative of its size that I want to find its shoulders, neck.
I brainstorm materials that I could use to construct the rest of it; clay, wax, plaster.
I look at it squarely, my jaw rising and falling in unison, and imagine tasting it, smelling it.
Like a museum, it would be;
as sweet as its preservedness and
smell like a school corridor that’s just been cleaned.
Its colours are multi-toned, each bump in the bone
casting its small shadow of gold, mercury
You can find contours in anything.
I imagine dipping it in white paint,
and feeling the surge of its vulnerability as it dripped on the floor.
It would scream ‘What have you done to me?’
and I would want even more to reconstruct it. This old, old bone.
Inspired by a Jacqui Rowe poetry workshop at The Barber Institute, Birmingham, October 2016: