Yours pearls worn siren smooth,
no longer luminous, unlike
your grey green skin:
my mother - still beautiful.
I start gathering shells
as you lie dying,
selecting only the best.
For the altar bowls of oysters,
tinged with grey lustre;
strewn clam shells and bouquets
of periwinkles - soft bodies, now gone,
maybe drowned in the stomach of the sea
or buried in the sand.
I bring you the roots of sea holly
adorned by silver leaves to soothe,
maybe stem the tempest in your belly
before the carcinoma swells
your fish-like tissue and you body
flips in on itself one last time.
From Fabric No 1 (Feb 2001)