He’s next to the drugstore at the mall.
A trickle of women in scarves and shawls
sit behind crushed velvet curtains
and turn plastic pages of catalogues
not looking for a dolphin on the ankle
but photos of before and after.
Some ask about his years as a medic
in South Korea where he learned his art,
others survey the map of the world:
each tack a happy client although
Saudi Arabia has none since
husbands tell their wives it’s haram.
Vinny’s felt hat rests on the desk.
He notes that if surgeons are sculptors,
he’s an artist in the quest for breasts.
Like a hairdresser, he chats away
about Angelina Jolie’s hip flap
and how nobody wants to wake up
with nothing. They say his tattoos are 3D
and help women get their girl back
but those with battered pickups
and no Medicare have flat chests so
he takes special care they’ve something
better to look at in the shower.
They slip out of their camisole tops.
Some wear bras. He tries a smile:
Would Madam care for pierced nipples
this time round? As you can always add,
Vinny starts with the lightest tone
and doesn’t avoid touching their scars.
Stuart Pickford lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school. He is married with three children. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish (2016), was published by smith/doorstop.