fingers play the role of feet (Dave Drayton)

Verity La Heightened Talk

FullSizeRender1walk barefoot over broken glass and into pigeon
shit collected atop concrete and
beneath the beams that buoy the train above
running from Newtown to Stanmore
or Stanmore to Newtown
no telling now it’s just
a faint heavy
getting                                                                                     fainter
that shard of distraction
a girl of four or so years old
she must be that old            would she not otherwise be in school
it feels soon after noon,                                                it gets harder to gauge the age
a Monday                                                                      of children when you’re not one
                                                                                                     but not yet aware of that
she wears a tutu, grass-stained pink
and points the forking branch of a
gum, a wind-stripped limb                        (her wand?)
at the bare feet to cite as precedent for her own
her father looks around my age
as difficult to gauge for different reasons
perhaps I could have been him
or like him
had we not done what we did
four years ago
when I was younger,
still possessing the potential to
                                                                            p        h
                                                                            a        i
                                                                            r        m
                                                                            a        h
                                                                            l         e
                                                                            l         r
                                                                            e        e
                                                                            l         &
now I hold her evidence in my hands
fingers feeling like rolled spring
too fit to burst and complex
for the finesse required
to extract glass
the Abisart means once it starts
the bleeding will not quickly stop
the cruor won’t come
and so the evidence
her evidence
is red and dirty
wrestled in my palms
a hemorrhaging flamingo
a flock of one on the footpath
beside the dojo and the rooftop preschool that maybe she attends?
the ‘we’ is different now
potential meets similar ends
the blood is barely that for her
who, unlike her father, doesn’t look disgusted,
doesn’t care but for my lack of shoes
the feet I bare
he holds her shoes
these tiny things
index and middle fingers                                                                        above her head
play the role of feet
on the little legs of his hand
his arm longer than her height
the soles of the shoes above her bare feet
threatening to walk away or walk on air
like she does, her fleshy stumps
treading oxygen
a fist emerging from an outstretched arm
offers direction to a steed I could
or can not be
who holds her by the waist
for this, the small perilous patch of their passage
as her other arm, holding an arm of its own
of gum and some power
casts at the shards of glass and shit beneath her father’s shoes
Dave Drayton was a founding member of the Atterton Academy, sauna enthusiast, and recipient of the 2014 Blake Prize for Poetry. He Tweets @_davedrayton