His gardening cleats punctured
her left knee when she stumbled
at his feet in a sack race.
There was talk of tetanus.

In the holidays she pretended to be his nurse.

She made sandwiches
when he’d just eaten. In case he had forgotten
his pills, she hid two in the filling.

Again, she would ask to see the butterflies

mounted and labelled
in a tallboy of shallow glass drawers—
bright as jelly.

The puncture healed to a dimple

that flattened when she used to hitch
up her uniform, place her knee
on the counterpane

and in unison with another nurse
hook a wing
and press down through her thigh
to haul the patient up the bed

and flattened when she used to kneel
between a woman’s parted legs
one hand poised
one feeling for the cord

for the pulsing
while watching for shoulders
to rotate as she waited
for the next contraction.

Now the dimple is less visible.

When she is sleepless the butterflies return—
iridescent bodies coded
and speared through each squeezed thorax.



Margaret Adkins’ debut poetry pamphlet, Mingled Space is published by V.Press. Her poems appear in several anthologies, magazines and online. She was once a nurse and midwife. Website: