Drawing Fig-Leaves on Michelangelo’s David
You took me away for a weekend,
dragging me round the art exhibitions –
staring transfixed at one sculpture
for the time it took me to see them all.
You thought I would enjoy
touring the museums. Dinosaurs,
precisely wired into poses, and you,
recounting historical context at me
as we walked through military displays,
and the Blitz, recreated in Styrofoam,
with poppy wreaths entombed in the dust.
I got bored of remembering it that way,
so I changed it.
In my version,
we ran through the galleries,
hot-wired a WWII German Panzer,
stole dinosaur bones,
and drew fig-leaves on Michelangelo’s David.
My grandmother hands me crayons
tells me to draw.
I search for pictures,
barely able to see out of the window,
even kneeling –
I draw halves of things.
A curve of sheep-wool,
standing on the scribble of green
that I know must be there.
The sound of the tracks
become a scratch, scratch, scratch,
dark orange crayon scoring out against the green
in short jerky lines.
I imagine the lines being chewed up
and spat back out by my half-sheep.
The ocean blows onto my paper
as great curls of blue,
drowning my half-sheep.
I turn the page,
watch my grandmother
unaware of my eyes on her,
as she crunches an apple.
I do not know how I should draw her,
draw the suck of the apple breaking
or the patterns of her chewing wrinkles.
Being small, I would climb
up onto the kitchen unit, walking
the tightrope of the sink-edge:
balancing barefooted, amidst clean plates.
The only way for me to reach the shelf,
where your cup sat.
Then sitting cross-legged beside the kettle,
I would fill your cup – teabag, two sugars, milk.
Waiting for the bubble then click of the kettle.
Once, when I made you tea,
I missed the cup – hot foamy liquid
making bubbles in my flesh.
Pushing my ankle into the sink,
I let the cold tap gush over my ankle,
patterns appear – a learning curve
etched red raw on pale skin.
Your cup sits for awhile, forgotten,
half-poured tea cooling in bone china;
when I limp into your bedroom,
You ask why your tea is cold.
Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe is a poet and Mum from Dukinfield. Her work has appeared in Magma, The Interpreter’s House and The Lake. Zoë also enjoys wargaming and scrapbooking.