how many times
has she seen him
whittle the child
down to size

it never harmed me
the father says
using the knife to cut out
the curious knot in the wood
slit the vein of red       pare back
pale new growth

shaves his hair to the scalp

the child sticks out
his chin grits his teeth
keeps the pirate costume
on all the time
sword at the ready

at night he sucks his thumb
cries out

Annette Mullumby (Western Australia)

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