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Jon Summers


"She may as well carry on now."

The cancer had turned her breast

black. She kept it hidden beneath

a thick jumper, the stink of cigarette

smoke. It was one of her few pleasures.

That, and a glass. Or two. Why deny it

now? It was black because she had

swallowed a piece of coal, she said,

let it fester in her womb in lieu of

the children she would not conceive

there, suckle at the sweetly

nauseating breast. It was something

she would not try to make sense of,

or rationalise, knowing that the

things that we love are the open

wound that we carry with us, always.

"It's just the way it goes, something's

going to kill you, isn't it?" Between

drags on her fag she smiled, terribly,

through teeth stained black. Unforgiving.

Careless of forgiveness, too.

What is there left?

What is there left? We clean

the headstone. Leave flowers.

Tidy the bit of grass the

council have missed. There are

wood pigeons calling from the

trees, swallows flying. What do

they do with their dead? Do they

mark the loss, too? It is warm,

where there were once bluebells

that have been dug up to make

room for those who no longer care.

The mark we leave, still.

A robin jumps from tree to grass.

You note its presence, wonder

if it should mean something.

J.M. Summers was born and still lives in South Wales. Previous publication credits include Another Country from Gomer Press, Borderlines, Sonic Boom, and the Amethyst Review. The former editor of a number of small press magazines, he has published one book, Niamh, a collection of prose and poetry.

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