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Clump of Cells

After William Blake

You are, at most, a week or two old.
How big will you grow?
Your potential, vast.
For now you’re happy
to skulk there, quietly establishing yourself,
elbowing out of your way
those who lack your secret code.

No one knows you’ve arrived:
two, four, six, eight
secretly becoming a trillion
while they take you with them on picnics
or give you your first taste of gin and tonic,
though you don’t yet officially exist.

Everyone knows your name.
It decorates the headed notepaper
of esteemed charities and titles of reports.
Careers and fortunes are made doing research into you.

But, for now, you are nothing,
a touch of fatigue,
a vague feeling of discomfort
that’s probably a pulled muscle.
The second they know you’re here
they’ll start sweating
and whispering your name
and stop taking you on picnics.
Even if they succeed in killing you
they’ll spend forever looking for signs of you.

Kevin Higgins has been described by The Stinging Fly as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland.” His sixth full collection of poems Ecstatic will be published by Salmon in June 2021. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press magazine, The Daily Mirror and read aloud by Ken Loach at a political meeting in London.