The photograph, cute and opportunistically shot,
Deceived from atop a peeling shelf,
As greyscale romance faded into full colour
And reality pierced fiercer.
A future model’s jaw line greened, marred by lumps and mottled marks,
Whilst her damson skin made a poppy bruise mere child’s play.
She hoarded her paltry possessions away from my pocketed clutches:
Stained, cliché-eyed doll and car with unoriginal driver
Passed over for a hymen long ago.
A faded, ill-fitting top revealed a grip-thick stomach,
Scratched like a cat post and swollen like a paler edition
Of ones you see on slow-motion appeals.
I felt dirty to have caught a glimpse of her navel.
Clearing throat, and trying hard to look past
Big brown eyes, full of broken capillaries
Sullying young sclerae like cherries popping,
I bent slowly down, negotiating the movement
Inch by inch with the quivering poor sod.
I sighed at the absent, back-arching panting of one
Whose breath had caught in their lungs,
And stopped momentarily at the recoil towards a soiled skirting board,
Splintering like sapping bark, as if
To push the child towards me, and sanctuary.
I understood I was identical to the infant’s image
Of indescribable suffering, but stood firm, held voice soft.
She came with me, past sobbing, repentant mother,
Past the lying photograph. That little bedroom.