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The Choosing

Air-tight room,

A few hours of light
Before everything succumbs
To obscure night,
Skirting-board to ceiling.

I confirm again
You’ve gone,
And watch
Air sink and bend –
Disappear underground,
Cannot be unearthed,
Dig as I might
Night after night,
Pitching and spilling
Wooden planks apart
To reach your inert form.

I cup in one hand,
Edge of time stuff,
Finely wrought from forfeiture;
Bleak valleys beneath
Shift uneasily,
Somehow managing
Surface compliance.

Your eyes meet mine.
I will take one limb.
Your choice.

I think
Your ancient familiar
Has my tongue;
Claws at my throat,
Scratching a hollow response:
Take your pick, I say.
It’s impossible to lose
One aspect of all I am
And will ever need.

Coward, you spit.

As usual,
I wake up
On a hospital ward.
Family and loved ones
Frame my bed on all sides:
A brilliant raft kept
Afloat by tsunamis of grief;
Bloodied bandages
Wound tightly about a stump
Where my right hand once
Reached out to comfort
Or balled itself into a fist.

Shark must’ve got him, one says.
Or self-hunger thirty days in, laughs another.
Should have taken all of me, I whisper back,
I was ripe for the taking.

About the Author

Paul Taylor-McCartney is a doctoral researcher with Leicester University, following a part-time PhD in Creative Writing. His interests include dystopian studies, children’s literature and initial teacher education. His poetry, short fiction and academic articles have appeared in a range of notable UK and international publications including Aesthetica, The Birmingham Journal of Language and Literature, Education in Practice (National Association of Writers in Education), Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine and Dyst: A literary Journal. He lives and works in Cornwall, (UK).

You can find out more about him by visiting:

One comment on “The Choosing

  • Grief Dialogues Blog
    April 14, 2021 | 6:08 pm

    […] his poems The Choosing  […]

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