Tuesday, July 10, 2007


by Jean Sprackland

She peels cod fillets off the slab,
dips them in batter, drops them
one by one into the storm of hot fat.
I watch her scrubbed hands,
elegant at the work,

and think of the hands of the midwife
stroking wet hair from my face as I sobbed and cursed,
calling me sweetheart and wheeling in more gas,
hauling out at last my slippery fish of a son.
He was all silence and milky blue. She took him away
and brought him back breathing,
wrapped in a white sheet. By then
I loved her like my own mother.

I stand here speechless in the steam and banter,
as she makes hospital corners of my hot paper parcel.

Leonardo da Vinci, 'Study of hands', circa 1474, Silverpoint and white highlights on pink prepared paper, 214 x 150 mm, Royal Library, Windsor

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