• Caleb Parkin

Osteochondritis Dissecans

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“desecrated spaces, the rivers of me, these capillaries drying up at their tips”


Last Wednesday, I ran the last workshop (of four) at M Shed museum, around their excellent Skeletons exhibition.

As well as spending time with loads of brilliant young writers, from three schools and those who’d come to the summer holiday workshop – I felt like I’d gotten to know those bones rather well.

Being as I like to model reading out writing I’ve just written, I did a lot of it before and during the sessions. We looked at Simon Armitage’s poem Ankylosing Spondilitis (which appears in the anthology Signs and Humours: The Poetry of Medicine) during the workshops – and I encouraged participants to find a term in the exhibition and write around it. This is what I came up with:

Osteochondritis Dissecans – after Simon Armitage, Ankylosing Spondylitis – for all the Skeletons.

Osteo – relating to the bones chond – conned – chondritis – itis which makes things inflammatory and dissecans – like desiccated coconut like desecrated spaces, the rivers

of me, these capillaries drying up at their tips, ceasing to flow, ground of my bones splintering, tilting up sharp fragments of bark into the soft skies of my muscles which mutter a low moan of it, swear, quietly, with every step.

Can you help me? I’m shattered, shattering – an intricate vase hitting the ground in slow-motion. Maybe you can hit pause, press stop. Maybe some day you’ll be the one to find some new language, a spell before I am too broken for superglue, to tape up.

Please: find the words. Speak them, a titanium prayer.

#skeletons #POETRY #MShed #youngpeople #museums #SimonArmitage

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