‘The hand that bites is the maternal hand,’
reads the Doctor. I made him a comic for his birthday
and this is the first thing the dog protagonist says.
I’ve learnt everything I know from the Doctor.
When he asks if I want to talk about my mother
I say, ‘No, thank you. My mother is dead. It’s classic.
It means I’m both precocious and heartbroken,
but that’s no excuse for bad manners.’ The Doctor
doesn’t care about the heart. It’s academic.
If I tell him I’ve missed him, he says, ‘Love
is the bloom on a problem, and must be cut out.’
In my one memory of my mother I am filling up
her belly-button with shingle on a beach in Brighton.
When I told the Doctor he mused, ‘A dog bites
the hand it knows,’ and, ‘The fruit will swallow the tree.’
He’s recording me on tape so he can sell my story
to a documentary maker when I’m famous. Today
he’s making me list everything my parents ever gave me,
like 1) A rabbit; 2) Medicine; 3) An interior feeling
of shipwreckedness. While I list he reads my comic,
chuckling. He doesn’t notice that the last page is torn off.

Subscribe to Five Dials. It's free.