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ZOSTER by Sammy Weaver

Mama is clawing at her bedsheets

as her skin erupts

into lesions,

a girdle of lichenous scabs

encrust her back

and breasts;

shingles triggered awake

from its long torpor

in her sensory ganglion,

harboured there

since her girl-body

itched with chickenpox,

now it surges along

the frail tributaries

of her nervous system,

expressing itself in blisters

at the shore

of her consciousness.

Quick! Daughter, mix a poultice

of bicarbonate and vinegar,

dab it on to loosen the sting.


Once mama is asleep,

you walk to the beech tree

in the corner of the field,

where a bracket fungus

has made its shelves

in the lower trunk,

the bark already ruddled

with rust-coloured spores,

and the tree hiding

within the tree is

mycelium — multiplying

its phantom-white hyphae,

well set to work

on rotting

the good heart-wood.


Sammy Weaver is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have been published in The Moth, The Island Review, and have appeared in various anthologies. She lives on a narrowboat in West Yorkshire.


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