There was a white blank word

I couldn’t pronounce in a diary

I shouldn’t have cracked, cursing me

since I crawled in. I wanted to drive,


to think clear as water, to let it get light

to find my bearings, there was a dark


hole, three blind mice, see how they run –

pity the tired pink feet, the sensitive whiskers.

I’m no doctor but I know how a mother feels

when her blood bangs against her


skin, it doesn’t matter why the light blinks

in the hall, if your baby got born cut out


and dragged, if he slid like an egg

and if the eyes are blue or brown or absent

of course blame me. Something slips,

something breaks your father,


my tumbling locks. The gap between his teeth,

his left hand, my right. People line up


to say how lucky we are

if he were a mouse he’d be ploughed

into the soil or wasting in a bed of brown

leaves. It doesn’t matter


you are not a mouse & what my body has done

it has done. Is love ever scentless? Imagine reading


a list of everyone you’ve hurt

that’s how it smells. Like


the water near my house

stagnant pages mark


a long silence. There are maps


of everything you don’t say,

what you delete. You can’t dis-remember


the waddle of his pregnant wife

back when maps were striking


red arrows. Humans in clusters,

in lines, breathing in small gaps.


Things go wrong

the good doctor whispers


from her throat, like hope

every system has a flaw


and you can’t blink

movements of mountains


cuts of a lake, everything a very fine

amazing, tuned process or everything vast,


out of control. Imagine

telling a mouse


it works. Your blonde

blue eye goes black.


Trials & patterns of protein to cross

and examine when something misfires


we do not squat in hay,

linger in out-house reek.


I sit on the bone

white john and keep


the door locked

no matter who knocks


read another page.

Grandma never said


she had an easy life: the bend of a straw hat,

a familiar 78, a warm slice of cake, a cream


tea. Will he go on to say it doesn’t matter

like a mantra it works it doesn’t matter


if the trains run late how many clean bones

the pigs stand on how many bones


we stand on. We stand on what is below, on what

was re-forgot, de-seen, mapped & un-mapped.



Based on conversations with the geneticist Veronica van Heyningen & First published in ‘sequences and pathogens’ from Litmus Press.