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Poetry: Necessary Silence

A biro nib traces over my unknown leg, the message it tries to write is

unclear. Bad decisions all around me, the crumb of a chicken nugget

is smuggled in like contraband. My dried lips thaw for the first time in

weeks. A pair of scissors are lobbed at the livor mortis curtains that

shroud my despair. A flat line mouth retrieves them and files them in

the drawer next to a fifty-year-old man, himself a collector of bad

decisions; mini-van journey, airport collection, bed baths, key placed

in a front door to a home no longer assembled for him. Another

morning, I cry into shoelaces I can no longer tie. An afternoon. Alone,

waiting, I pick leg hairs like blades of grass and ask the antiseptic pillow

that holds the weight of it all if it is still my leg, I do not hear what it is

trying to say. Wait. There by the side of my bed, Grandad, this bear of

knitted engine oil, calloused hand wrapped around mine. His gnarled

knuckles a barrier I will not pass. He navigates the canular and has

driven to me. The snow was my bad decision I see it in the sheets, the

ceiling tiles, doctors’ notes, mashed potato, but not him. He says

nothing, he just holds, stays, watches. Then he is gone, I want him to

take me with him. And I wonder how many times

I have remembered the weight of his hand on mine, the soil under his

fingernails where he never needed

to grow the right thing

to say.

Stephen Lightbown is a Blackburn born, Bristol based poet and disability rights champion. Paralysed following an accident in 1996 when he was 16 Stephen uses his poems to give a voice to his disability. He has spoken at events across the UK and at festivals such as Shambala, Womad, Verve Poetry Festival and Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival. In addition, Stephen has read internationally in San Antonio, Texas. Author of two poetry collections The Last Custodian and Only Air his poems have also been widely anthologised. He can be found via most social media channels via @spokeandpencil.

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