OCEAN BLOOM ACROSS THE OPERATING TABLE | Shabnam Shehan
Called to identify
The body of your own child
Contorted by the views of the world
Now some semblance of peace found
On the operating table
You taught him to tie a Windsor knot
Never thinking it would
Be the way he’d seal himself
In all his handsomeness
Two decades later
Gangrene seeps across the beds
Like the ocean bloom
Of coral reefs
Untouchable turquoise blues
In all shades of grief
I stood motionless in the background
Like the extra on a movie set
And watched your undiagnosed trauma.
I can’t remember attending lectures
On how to comfort distraught parents
But over the years,
I learned to cry on the inside
Much like your son.
So now I’ll wait in the coffee queue
And have my fingers drift over autopsy reports
The way his mother’s fingers would have felt
Both of us barely awake only separated by
Different points in time
A scattering of pills flushing
The moments between us
All the colours of his life
Are now destroyed in an
cannot always be inherited.
How terrible to think
That you know that now
The way I do.
Shabnam Shehan is a 19-year-old university student. By the time she graduated high school, she had four Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Competition awards (2 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze), two world prizes in IGCSE English Literature and English Language, and 98% in her final A level English Literature exams. Her poetry manuscript Notes of a Finifugal Mind was shortlisted for the RædLeaf Poetry Award in 2016. If she’s not studying medical textbooks or reading medical novels excessively, she’s often found listening to Boys II Men whilst writing fiction.