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Survivors' Poetry blog - disability arts online
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Simon Jenner: Descended from a Line of Legs / 26 October 2015

A vintage toy camper van

Volkswagen Camper van: a toy car made by Lesney in the 1960s

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In discussing how to kick-start the Survivors’ Poetry blog, this poem about my father's tin leg and how, as a child, I used it as a garage for my toy cars was recently recalled in some email communications. A survivors’ poet remembered my reading of it some years ago at the Poetry Cafe. 

Descended from a Line of Legs

Clank; his leg shows its metal
down the pungent antiseptic corridor
whose double once wheeled his flesh one to the fire.

Now he spawns comedy; these are Volvos,
Volkswagens swimming down the aluminium,
garaged by his infant son daily and forgotten.

Veering to some vacant ward, he dismantles
his white consultant self to the buff
paint and straps, to slow scars quickly examined,

stumped behind surgical socks, to a child’s Dinky rattle –
of himself years back, embryo memory of his whole.
But it’s his son who’s almost complete, bar squint eyes,

scar tissue he sees to himself; eyes blind
to their blue-chipped reliquaries he’ll now return.
Smiling to anecdote it, he winces rising.

His son will keep missing and forgetting
till he’s only metal and memory. The father 
would not see him seed in his hangar leg

what burns his son to fly, late, to the same doctored titles,
limping preferments, not the predicted lyric scrapheap.
But the son’s legs are blocked out, own no magic cavern

to welcome his own infants. Flesh stops with him
who limps like his father with a pint less excuse
who fires steel and sterile children as a fertile offering
&copy Simon Jenner