This is not what I expected.
Red was my colour, or white,
white as a virgin’s skin. Robes
hung from me as delicate
as the smooth charcoal tissue
that floats from the fire.
Children press their fingers
to my frame, glue and paper
swaddling these new bones
of wood and chicken wire.
In six months I am fleshed. My face grows more grotesque
with the passing years, ears
larger, cheeks greyer. Knock
your knuckle on my body
and hear my hollowness.
But I am not without substance: I am laced with the stuff of death.
At first, the heat agonised me.
Now I welcome it, I am ready.
Red is my colour – red as earth
scorched through and bloodied
red as a child’s gaudy toy. And when this shell explodes,
splinters of me will grate the sky,
the crowd will be sated.
You can look for me if you must –
trodden into mud, dusting trees –
go on, stare. I am not there
* first appeared in Iota 89, Spring 2011