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For the background to this poem and how Tamsin embraced poetry, have a read of her post here.

Fragments by Tamsin 

I don’t know when we first met

there was no warning of your approach

no-one whispered the words: “he’s coming,”

how is it that I didn’t notice your arrival?

I only remember tracing the outline of you with my fingertips

I only remember the sensation of you on my skin


and now here we are all these years later

I have tried so hard not to think about you

I have tried so hard to forget

you are an unwelcome visitor,

sitting, waiting patiently for me in a room which I dare not enter

you are a raging fire 

sometimes you can be beaten back

sometimes you devour everything in your path

you burned away everything I believed in

and all the certainties which I held as truths 

and now because of you I am broken

and now because of you I am fragments 


you think that I’m afraid of you, don’t you?

you think that I’m in your thrall

don’t misjudge my acceptance of you as a sign of weakness

don’t mistake my quiet resignation for surrender

I can look you in the eye now

see the scars you left behind,

fractures too fine to mend with molten gold

by the art of kintsugi

I am a kaleidoscope of flaws

countless pieces of coloured glass in motion

a murmuration of butterflies

I am patterns unbecoming and becoming,

an endless constellation of bright wings in flight



Tamsin is a social worker living with her family in South London. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 in 2009 and again in 2012. A soft-touch mother and manager, she is learning to live with the long-term effects of breast cancer, including lymphoedema in her right hand and both arms. Tamsin is a would-be writer and reluctant blogger who pens occasional pieces to challenge the ‘single story’ about breast cancer and to raise greater awareness of the enduring emotional and psychological impact of cancer.    

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Anne-Marie (not verified)

Love this

Julie B (not verified)

Very lovely

Diane Leopard (not verified)

This is an excellent poem Tamsin