Mother wears the vines of summer,
hawthorn hackles raised in grief.
She’s my father’s stubborn mourner,
pecking at his horehound leaves.
Nurses scatter apple blossom,
bleach is masked in meadow scent.
Father burrows under holly,
glossy spines can’t hide our shame.
Mother left us boiling over.
Vital organs steam soft pink.
Artificial thoughts of actors
will pollute the zealot Sphinx.
Sisters gather jars of dog blood.
Line them up to make a scene.
Needled carers can’t unpick her
though she’s limp and loosely sewn.
Mother’s scalp is cutthroat tangles.
Stare her down with kitten-eyes.
Fill the ward with speckled falcons.
They’ll refuse to nest or lay.
Mark Farley has been shortlisted and highly commended for the Bridport Prize. Find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or via his blog (http://mumbletoes.blogspot.co