September 2019

Back to Issue 6

Return to the mothership

By Beth Spencer


I touch the scar on my chin and I am 

back at Chadstone shopping centre, 1962. 

I pass the un-fun fair in the basement (little boats, 

the clown, a coin for a dance) endlessly out of reach.

In the childcare centre down a twisting corridor

it is always nap time except just 

before the mothers return: 

a wedge of fresh sharp orange.

Outside I lie on the grass and gaze up 

at the radio station like a space ship.

And in Downy-Flakes-Donuts 

we get to keep the placemats with the poem!

(As you ramble on through life…) And yet

it is the tantalising space (whatever 

be your goal) with the wrought iron fence

peering down 

to the floors below 

where I smash my face 

against the concrete edging. 

(Keep your eye upon the donut!)

Much blood and panic. (Where is her mother?)

(My sister is explaining hard about the lost keys.)

(Two days before Xmas. No one has time for this!)

(Not upon the hole!) Then the scented lady in Myers 

rests me down on a narrow white bed 

and brings me a doctor 

who embroiders a row of black stitches 

along the edge of my skin. (Eye upon the donut!)

A week later, I cry when I wake to find them gone.

Taken in the night by a pair of scissors. 

Why are you crying now? everyone laughs. 

You didn’t even feel it.