Margaret Moores (Massey University, New Zealand)
In the photograph, black and white,
I am all pale forehead and hollow eye,
awkward in knitted jersey and pleated skirt,
hair pulled back with ribbon.
Memory colours the jersey fawn, the skirt blue,
I am smiling as if I wish I were somewhere else.
I have been sick: days in bed, feverish
sleep in sunlight filtered through flowered curtains,
disturbed by murmured conversations
about x-rays and hospital; the low rumble
of the doctor’s voice populating my dreams
with the giants and ogres from my fairy-tale book;
in my mother’s voice, a whisper
of anxiety that I mistake for impatience.
The x-ray plate is cold against my chest. I want to see
this image: my bones, my lungs, the crackling cough
hiding behind the fingers of my ribs
which jut outwards when I raise my arms.
I hold my breath and turn when I am told.
Pneumonia, a word I can spell now,
like catastrophe or penicillin.
Margaret Moores has been a bookseller and publisher’s sales representative for many years but is now a PhD student in Creative Writing at Massey University. Her poems and short fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in New Zealand and Australia.