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Still Birth

by Janet Smith


Sullen with dust and sharp shadow
cast behind the brown panelled door
the hydrocephalus stands
alone

on three shelves of dark stained wood.
translucent dolphin brain
atrophic limb

looking down with strabismic eyes
to a scuffed parquet floor

Thick-layered, a fade-red curtain conceals 
the Cyclops
blunt-nosed
pale, barely-bodied
spiralling into knotty
white umbilical
cut off

from the womb’s blood red
amnion exchanged
for formaldehyde, rests

on crushed velvet, which soft tissue
once fed the dividing cell

ghost imprint of promise

ending in a once-painted
room, under glass encrypted
in ochre-blenched ink

Prize winner (commendation) in the 2012 Hippocrates prize for Poetry and Medicine.
Published in the 2012 Hippocrates prize anthology.