The colour of the ceiling
Artex swirls which revolve if the drip has been off can sometimes be as many as six colours at once
Not only colours
Shades too: green, white, a little rose, hint of blue, off white behind, yellow white at different times of day
The six colours vary. That is, they vary when I see that far
Carer arrives, their names change but their hands are always cold
As she lifts me, I am taken by a wave
The board beneath my feet feels firm
My arm muscles strain, I must turn
I have never seen the bed sores on my back but I imagine them as gradual, inch by inch, decay
Like the compost heap in my garden
My prize winning raised beds
I hope Barry has been weeding them right up to the lawn
The edges of my body are giving up
Each cell has fought so long
Now they surrender

The board swings back towards the sun, it blinds me for a second, the sail drops
I pull back with every bit of my free arm pulling
I am upright and suddenly still
The water glistens, the Greek sea, warm, warm sun, a fresh gust, I am nineteen
My body rests again on the scabs, the sheet of the mattress, plastic cover
The mattress itself has moved little
They should turn it
The scabs are searching for a new resting place, to settle back again
The cover moves, the cushions behind are warm
These is a faint smell from outside
I feel the pollen in the air
My geraniums must be flowering by now
And the apple blossom
Will live and die without me ever seeing them
The drip is turned up, the wind lofts
Fills the sail, suddenly, very quick now, skimming the aqua green sea
Across the slow moving waves
Steer into the wind to pick up speed
My muscles feel surer
I adjust my feet, toes dig in, knees bend a little
I arc my spine forwards once more
Bend my knees a little more
My spine holds on to my board
My spine holds
The scabs achieve their place, become peaceful
Mum will be here soon and the next job will be to eat

I am thirty four
The colours have shifted again
Six more shades, none the same
Barry looks in
Says something I do not catch
The radio is on, Radio Four
I push a word across my mouth, keeping one side closed it emerges, and then another, slower
“Turn it up”
The carer leans in. I smell her sweet perfume and soap
Like the Jasmine by the shed
Has it been cut back?
What time of year is it?
What month?
Perhaps on Gardeners Question Time
“What dear?”
“Turn it up”
Small salvia drip onto my neck
She has not noticed
It will dry there
The stems of my roses reminded me of spines
I need to tack round against the swell
And head back towards the beach
The wind has changed yet again and suddenly there is the swell
I’m going over, inevitable
Board tips up and throws me off into the sea
Tied on, so I pull the board back, re-board
Dad’s on the beach with the camera
Better take the board in carefully, give Dad a good shot.
The sun is behind him
The picture will be good

The archers over time for medication
There is an itch now at the base of my spine
Like my wet bikini with sand in
My spine that mocks me everyday
A tingle like a slight pain
Just where I cannot reach it
When I move back the scabs again will shift
The itch will be forgotten
The spit has dried
There are as many shades of pain as colours on my ceiling
Some are constant, remain through each day
Some are special visitors
I can measure days, months, years, out, in terms of the quality, texture, name and location of the pain.
A grand tour of my body’s self-destruction
Planned and carried out by my bloody spine
But I try not to. It is, as it is
There are seasons within seasons in this room
But they are all the same
Nothing seems to grow in here
There is no warm sea
Only the urine bag

One day the first bud came through
I was in my chair
It was just peeking through the surface of the soil to greet me!
The garden was taking shape
“Mum put that by the pond”
“Turn around the chair”
“Can you put the compost in the greenhouse?”
“Shall we enter?”
“Yes, of course”
“Well then we need to work harder”
“What about the raised beds?”
“Let’s plan it out”
Every project to keep the spine in place
Now the morphine is my only project

When was that, my last trip in the chair?
When I was….
The Archers is over
Two hours to tea time
Four hours to Mum time
Carer on her break
The hole in the day, the hour of fullest despair
Will I make it to forty?
I could call someone
Or someone could come
One of the children
My fingers seem cold
Let me remember my spine
Each segment in turn
And try to decide once and for all, which one gave me all this
The itch is back
The shades are at six times six now
Shadows over more
My board is drying in the sun
Dad will frame the picture
My flowers one day will bloom
I will never again leave this room