Ribs - Poem by Diane Hine
Bones with a sense of humour, ribs are jolly.
They jiggle up and down when we laugh, like a stack
of crazy smiles. Lungs are pink and pampered.
The ribs cradle them, the diaphragm dandles them.
And ribs are springy guardians, tough but giving,
and very protective.
My dad detrained at Lewisham.
Where from exactly? I don’t know. Possibly the
electric train’s ninth coach, ramped over the eighth,
or the jammed seventh, or the eviscerated eighth.
Or one of the three steam train coaches,
crumpled under the fallen bridge.
The important thing is, he left nothing behind.
Well, maybe his glasses, or a hat. It was cold
and foggy, and men still wore hats in 1957.
I mean he left no body parts behind. He was hurt,
but probably looked pretty good, these things
being decided by comparison.
A fireman hefted him over his shoulder.
My dad’s skinny frame must have flopped obligingly
around the fireman’s neck like a warm shawl.
His cracked ribs gave way. They ceded to the
authority of a regulation ‘fireman’s carry’.
They yielded and, with nowhere else to go,
slumped into his cushiony lungs.
My dad’s ribs let his lungs down. If that weren’t
such a lousy joke, they might have smiled.
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