Paediatric cranial trauma

her head held 
static, like a sparrow-
hawk steadies its body 
while its eye 
is stapled to the sky behind it
     as it emerges
from its fur ruff
like roasted fowl 
rising from a crammed platter 
of trimmings
     so still, slicked lips through 
powdered visage, 
fresh gullshit 
on sun-parched paving, 
she speaks 

until the clamour of injury, 
panic and breath like thin tins, 
too shallow
to confine
the nearest thing, 
or softest substitute 
     all I can locate -
not a canteen, 
but its ancient box, 
softly faded 
from petrel, fuzzy 
and comforting 
its tarnishing 

I tip, 
then shake, 
onto the floor, 
fallen fish 
with an eternal 
one-eyed view of the fire
     slide, hollow, under the child’s 
floundering head, as I challenge her 
through clown’s lips 
to push my hand 
with her belly 
     like it’s the most natural thing in the world


Alex Innocent is a poet from Yorkshire, who chooses to live in Norwich. ‘Moist’ is one of her favourite words. Among her other favourite things are caffeine, prime numbers, and writing short third person biographies.