is falling down an endless flight.
The beak-nosed doctor
arrives and kneels – a mirror – a feather –
makes a note, then lifts
her back up the stairs (so heavy!)
to her fresh-painted nursery
in Blackheath. Dorothy you say? He notes
the time. And she was three?
It is 1907 and death
in infancy is commoner still
than teenage trench fever.
Shell-shocked, her parents
know the correct form,
first draw the curtains,
order the black crape
for Mr Eady (Master
Tailor) to sew up
his own daughter’s funeral. Now the doctor
is returning with a nurse and a death certificate.
He holds a quill out formally for the signature
then enters the nursery for the washing of the corpse –
finds it sitting up and covered with chocolate.