It was about the size
of a new-born baby’s arm,
softly wrinkled
like a spinster”s throat.

He had others,
tiny ones dangling from his eyelids
and mini cauliflowers on his knuckles,
but the wart on his back just kept growing.

Eventually it was so big
he had to tape it down. He wrapped
a bandage round and round, pinning
the wobbly appendage into a discrete
hump. He became used to it,
convinced himself that keeping it
was not the coward’s way,

until the day he removed his wrap
and maggots fell,
tumbling out of the wart
to bounce around his heels
on the bathroom floor.

The air around him stank
like a butcher”s shop on a summer day.
He clutched the sink’s edge
and dry heaved until the ambulance arrived.

That night he died on the operating table,
nothing to do with the wart, just simple,
everyday, heart failure. He’d have died
soon, no matter what.

That night he died on the operating table
these things happen they say.
The surgeon pickled the wart in formaldehyde
and keeps it on his desk as a paperweight.