Poetry: "Museum Conservator" by CE Collins

A day was lost on that locket

A loose hair lock, one hundred and four years old

Let go, tore away from the safety

Of its bronze snap case.

Only slow patience, a steady hand,

And all day –

Hardly breathing: just object and stillness –

Could glue back each strand.

And every day’s like that –

Sure hands lay out the pieces, neat and ordered,

Collect chaos, make connections

Dust stains and sponge soils,

To renew and remake; take lonely, broken, ancient things

And put them back together.

Stories, memories are conserved,

And held whole, healed, in your palms.

And when your life seems to shiver into shrapnel

And smash into shards and sharps

Take your time with that, too.

Use science: balance risks of vibrations

That, like a fragile thylacine hide, threaten to shake you apart,

Against the carcinogen of a broken heart.

Take a deep breath – steady your hand

And with precision,

Lay the pieces out in order

And start fixing, conserving,

Put each piece of yourself back in place, one fragment at a time.

CE Collins is a morris dancing, shanty singing English teacher who writes. She writes in Australia and used to live on a narrowboat in England which was so interesting, she didn't need a personality. Her poems have been published by Not Very Quiet, Cephalopress, Cicerone Journal, and Sledgehammer Lit. Her folk tale collection Forests of Silver, Forests of Gold will soon be published by Between These Shores Books. Find her on Twitter @C_E_Collins