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Skinning a cat.

And two more new poems.


Skinning a Cat

…when she says to me
as I walk out
one summer morning
thirsty in Himaalaya
and soon to die
after breakfast and my bacon
“Serves you effing right”
I thought
and Merlin’s trip to the moon, “Oooooooh!
one holiday, alright, two, not on”.
it isn’t
it isn’t that
I thought
she chose a chaste life
by not adding to the population
she didn’t
she forsook a child
a kind of chastity
instead at six
to feed her felines
twenty-five before her
breakfast for cats not kids no-one wants
I am having my legs cut from under me
axed off and wanted that –
to walk out one summer morning
to sing the song of myself
to cross the Great
End of World Tour
tripping along the roofs a cat
burglar taking my cut of peaks
the Massif Central, the Appalachians, the Sierras
beyond Mont Blanc and the scurf of foothills
and rising waves
to watch the children

National Health

…nearly always a risk
………………………… pale
signs of morning….passing faces…..
a woman in a wheelchair spilling out
absorbing crisps & a can…of something
blue dilator gasping
could be an anticholinergic
probably tiotropium
only young

himself decidedly portly
but a lovely face
likely met
at Weight Watchers
wheeling her

through the hours
you can see
they’re a story
over their tablets
toucher tout le temps: her cheek his palm
her chin his fingertips oddly on and off
her index on an orange image on his arm
and tattooed neck the face delightful
even resting oblivious briefly on her breast

when I propped my legs up as advised
she remarked to me or him why didn’t I think of
that? And glanced. On coming out from the consultant,
we passed them and I said, we’re leaving now, all
the best, and smiled.



When I was five I had a doll I didn’t love. I tried holding it,
carrying it around, as I saw girls do. Klein would have plastered me
with some daft oedipal envy, the intrauterine knowledge of

parental coupling, as if I knew the silk and milk of mother’s breast
already. The doll’s blue relentless gaze would be a glare; deadliness
of battle projected outward. As if it were bad taste to emerge

innocent from the womb. What to do? I learnt to knit. And purl – sissie
couldn’t – to clothe it warmly, to render it soft as well as solid,
dress it up. Yes, pink; flesh-coloured Kant. Indeed I did. Did what I could,

ran to their room at dawn for dad to help in decreasing the stitches
to shape the shoulders. Kleinian interruptus. Where is that doll now?
I recall bringing it out for my grandson to play with, the charming

Tom bathing the baby in a basin slopping and splashing over
the rug on a grey nothing grandmammy’s day. Surely, I didn’t let
him take her home ‘cause when he said I love this doyyi I think he was

more bewitched by the water coming out of her eyes than with the pot.
How she could have been so disposed of? It distressed me greatly that this
doll was dead. Vastly, it disturbs me there is no apprehension.

WENDY CLAYTON was a teacher of English and general subjects, and has been published in several poetry journals – The North, Indigo Dreams, Shearsman, Osiris, Tears in the Fence, Stand, The International Times, and, forthcoming, in Stride, among others.  Her book, Twinship and Consciousnesswas published October, 2022.

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