Diane Hine (25 July 1956)
Ice, Silk and Flowers
The wooden cart bounced.
An arm flopped over the side and dripped
another pink flower into ice slush beside the track.
In the field hospital, an army surgeon
cut open the plain cloth sleeve.
Cyanotic skin was deemed deserving
of silk-suture embellishment.
With skin like silken tofu or melting lard, Rubens’
knobbly nudes seem as buoyant as oil on canvas.
Their rosy blushes perhaps an expression
of his own hot pain as uric acid crystals
like tiny ice picks, bloomed in swollen joints.
Venus Frigida ignores a taunting vittle-laden satyr.
Maybe her misery foreshadowed his own
if gout curtailed a courtly diet.
A Luftwaffe bomber’s wing blossomed orange.
The wireless operator opened the hatch.
A dusting of ice crystals melted away. He floated
down to a field of pasture, cow pats and primroses.
Village women, scissor-armed, assayed a crusade
and stole his silk parachute for new lingerie.
Joy dressed her fruit cake with a brush of warm jam,
a layer of almond paste, two layers of royal icing
and a border of five-petalled fondant flowers.
On the celebratory day she lifted the cake down
from the shelf. Oil had leaked from the almond paste
and risen to the surface. The white icing was streaked
and shadowed like water-stained silk. She frowned,
tilted her head to one side and considered.
Yes, she could almost see it. She pressed her little finger
into the dry icing and oiled in a missing eye.
Now it was complete; the face of Jesus.
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