The Wooden Man

by Helen Mort

It seems I complained too hard
about the rain shrivelling my skin
or feet burning on hot sand,
making me dance madly
like a chained bear.
Perhaps I sighed too loudly
about the rough tugging
of a snagged nail
or the way my raw feet
would bud blisters.
 
For, when I opened my eyes
this morning, I found
I had been sedated in my sleep;
numbed and dulled into heaviness
so that all the world was bubbled
and I could not touch it
without bursting my swelled armour.
Every toe was stubbed,
every finger frozen.
My head was a heavy thing
that would not crack from
hammer blows, unprotected falls.
 
Better to be blind, forsake
the bright pleasures of the eyes
or deaf and miss the sweet throb
of music. Better to be anything
than so deadened,
never again to feel
the agonising tingles of cold snow,
the subtle fingers of a shy breeze
or flesh; warm,
reassuringly like your own,
shuddering into goosebumps.