for Andrew

The first, I think, was my ankle, bandaged
as if the nurse was wrapping flowers
after it bloomed shamelessly
when I’d leaped from a style on College Lane
and danced in the Union Bar.

Next, your face.
A rugby boot tore it open
like a love letter
and a doctor sealed it,
not with a kiss, but with stitches.

Who needs fireworks
with an appendix like yours
bursting into our relationship?
Secretly, I was relieved I hadn’t,
after all, poisoned you with my salmon.

You came to find me
when snow white linen
turned redder than a dozen roses.
Luckily, hospitals are equipped
to deal with all human spillages.

We’ve done our share of mopping.
Together, we’ve seen embryos
swimming past us on a screen;
one of them seemed to wave
as if to say she’d be our daughter soon.

(She kept her word).
Another time
we learned by ultrasound
we had a son
when he rudely somersaulted.

In 24 years, we’ve lost count
of all the body parts we’ve seen;
lost most of our inhibitions;
lost blood, skin, bone, joints,
teeth, hair, and dignity;

taken surreptitious snapshots
of each other wearing long white stockings.
And each time, it seems to me,
there have always been wheatfields,
artfully photographed, swaying,

and whales in black and white images
spraying air down airless corridors;
endless miles of linoleum;
perfume of boiled rice;
base note of disinfectant.

And in 24 years the smokers
wearing lace-ups with their dressing gowns
still haven’t finished their cigarettes
or moved from the wooden bench
parked behind the ambulances.

We have seen each other
going under and coming round.
My love for you is as sound
as the money we’ve invested
in hospital car parks.

Even without your appendix
or your real knees; your shoulder, groin,
Achilles tendon, face, all re-arranged;
your ears re-attached; your prostate
gone missing;

you’re someone I can rely on
to bring me gladness,
sometimes in a disposable cup.

From the collection What Are You After? (Nine Arches Press, £9.99)


Josephine_Corcoran_290 Josephine Corcoran was born in Southport and moved to London when she was 12 to live with an older sister after the death of her mother. She now lives in Wiltshire. An Arvon course when she was 30 started her writing and she was a mature student at Bournemouth and Chichester Universities before studying for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Her work as a short-story writer and playwright has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and a stage play has been produced in London. She is founder and editor of the online journal And Other Poems and Writer in Residence at St Gregory’s Catholic College, Bath. What Are You After?, her debut poetry collection, is published by Nine Arches Press.
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Author portrait © Chris Waddell