The Doctor’s Assistant

January 15, 2016


Anton Rose lives in Durham, U.K. He writes fiction and poetry, and is a Writers of the Future winner. Find him at or @antonjrose.

Grandma gave my first needle,
taught me to sew,
showed me how to knit threads together,
make something new,
nimble fingers silhouetting the divine.

It came in handy white-uniformed at the front,
dragging broken men from the mud, pulling
flaps of flesh together with thread, then sending back
the almost-dead to serve their country
as cannon fodder. Through thimble fingers I watched
my men being blown to bits

so I could hardly resist when you showed me your plan,
your maps and diagrams, electrical charges,
how to take scraps and rebuild a new man,
recycle old flesh and bone, reverse
the callous expense of war.
I gripped my needle, spun my thread,
no longer papering over cracks
but aiming two fingers at death itself.

When he opens his eyes I will teach him to sew,
help him rediscover the wondrous dexterity
of fingers and thumb,
see if he can stitch my flesh, too,
do for me what for him
I have already done.

© Anton Rose

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