Broken Grapes


Doctor:         There is something wrong, right        here

[he pokes me, mid-belly]

shaped like a bunch of grapes:                a pancreas

                pumping in-su-lin

Me:                   Oh        is that bad

[I prod the childish folds

                between ribcage and bony                abdominals

        looking for        grapes

but it makes me wince, feeling the drip

snagging the cotton of my school blouse]

Doctor: You will have to inject

                        every day

Me: [clammy, imagining

my belly sucking the steel

like a shaking, smokeless cigarette]

Doctor:                 Too much sugar

                in the blood

Me:         [sealing the eyes of snowmen

                on my advent calendar

with dirty hands,

        retching globs of chocolate]

Doctor: There is no cure

Me: That’s bad isn’t it

Doctor:         But there is a treatment

        [again, slower]                        in-su-lin

[brings out a pen from his pocket

                tomato-red         but full of—]

Me: In-su-lin?

Doctor:         That’s right

                        [airshot, cold clear arc

        smelling of                 paints and stinging]

just in your belly        won’t hurt a bit

Me:                 It all hurts

Doctor:                        This won’t hurt

Me: [pulling my jacket to                 my shoulders

                with the sleeves forever

trailing back                like a straitjacket]

                Is there no other way?

        [I am queasy with these         broken grapes]

Doctor: No                [he sighs softly

                the needle is                 smiling,

        he apologises                I think.

                        and the green grapes plump

at my bedside                        are sugar-lumps

cold refreshing         poison

in the dry sob                of my mouth]



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