On recovering from leprosy

by JCH Potts

I took hour-long baths every evening,

drowned myself in strawberry scent,

 

never licked my lips when eating doughnuts,

let pineapple tickle down my chin,

 

tightroped chocolate on my tongue’s tip

till it slipped melted into my mouth,

 

traced tulips, roses, forget-me-nots, thistles,

lamb’s-ears, buttercups, over my cheeks.

 

I collected old books, skulls, vinyls, shells,

brushed past iron railings, bamboo, wire mesh,

 

plunged my hands into snow, tissue paper,

and in one greengrocer’s, a barrel of kidney beans.

 

People thought I was funny

standing half an hour at the fruit stand.

 

(Their conception that having was enough,

or that rasping lie “mind over matter”.)

 

I liked the museums of old

agricultural implements,

 

took up amateur acting so I could dress up

in the fine clothes, antique and antic.

 

I cut myself sometimes and had bandages

and tape and antiseptic cream;

 

I wrapped myself in scarves and gloves and hats,

or other times walked naked – rain or shine.

 

My bubble mixture abstract thoughts

I could touch.

 

I built a desk of old railway sleepers

and now write poems there.