BONFIRE | Remember when you believed all promises? Heather Shaw’s poem takes you back to childhood innocence and a toffee apple.
by Heather Shaw
When handed the toffee apple
I did not appreciate the miracle
That was its arrival
Never questioned whether or not
You would follow through on your promise
This is the certainty of a child
That words can be said
Appearing here as they did from your mouth
I did not know words are held to no laws
That they can shift and change
That what is said today
Can present as something different tomorrow
A toffee apple is
A toffee apple
Is a promise
That if I am good
It will appear, sticky, delicious in my hands.
We watch the bonfire together
You holding my hand in yours
Keeping me away from the flames
But not so far that I can’t feel
The heat, hear the crackle
See those blocks of wood splinter,
And break apart
You tell me the fireworks will start shortly
And I believe again that this will be so
Then I ask about the hospital.
Will you have to go again?
Have they finally cured what it is
That eats you, devours you
Hollows you out at the core?
I say I do not like visiting you
There in those cold white walls
The doctors seem scary
Their mouths covered
Each sound impossible to hold.
You bring me close, and I am happy
Though between you and the flames
I am sweating through those
Many layers you wrapped me in
I can’t make any promises
You say, quietly, so only I can
Hear them in the crowd
Only I can feel your fingers,
worming their way
Under my clothes, touching the skin
That was once your skin
Buried deep inside your swollen body
I wish you would say something different
I wish, like that honeyed treat,
You would pull together the
Pieces of you, and me, and our home
Present them to me as something whole
Something I can touch
Something I can consume
And be nourished by
But the words have already been said
Are already out in the world
And as the fireworks start
You take out a tissue and wipe
My hands clean.
Heather Shaw | @SardonicStork
Heather Shaw is a writer and cartoonist living in London. When not trying her best to put pen to paper, she produces web comics over on her instagram: SardonicStork.