Feeding Clara

by Sophie Wallace

Later: she will be given a medal.
Back home, she will hide it,
Tucked neatly in a drawer so that husband number 1 doesn’t have to remember it,
And husband number 2 doesn’t have to know.
She will feed, watch her sister, daughter, grand-daughter feed
Unwilling children without shuddering,
Coaxing little lips open with the soft steel of the spoon
And gentle words, come on; eat up; here comes the train!

Now: she thinks she will die if they do it again.
But she will not bend, will not swallow on command.
A steel gag; scraping metal against teeth yellowed with vomit
While her tongue flounders and panics adrift in the cave of her mouth.
Cheeks, gums, lips bleed
Forced open like virgin legs,
Bruised wrists and ankles forced into steel human hand cuffs
And head held carefully in place by junior viceroy Doctor Stone
Fresh out of university, trained to stop her shaking her head no no no…

The Good Doctor Palmer, perching on her, breaking her knees, prepares to do his duty
As she lies back. Four foot long, a python of rubber;
The tube emerging. Whose throat was that down last?
No space to think.
Head jerking
retching coughing
gagging spitting
bile burns
vomit clothes her
rubber violates
A tunnel between her insides and the outside world-
Here comes the train.