Topical Iodine

This is the poem I wrote for the Beautiful Dragons project on the elements. I chose Iodine because I had a sharp memory of it, right down to the clinical smell and the trips, alone. to the clinic, where we were sent from school if we had a minor injury. It seems amazing that no-one came with us. I relished these walks, despite a bleeding knee, because it was precious quiet time out of the hurly burly of school.
When researching, I read that this tincture, so loved in the 1950s and 60s, is now obsolete. I am posting this poem at the request of Cathy Thomas-Bryant. The photo is me, aged around 9.

Topical Iodine

Iodine is indicated as an antiseptic and disinfectant in the topical treatment of superficial skin infections caused by susceptible gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in minor abrasions, burns, or cuts. Archived, may be obsolete.

Blue as school ink with rumours of purple,

medicinal perfume to scent our scrapes,

blossoming on skin, bestowed by crisp nurses.


A bleeding knee was dabbed with sapphire drops,

its sting soon forgiven, as Rorschach blots

spread their magic, dripped into white socks.


How many times I fell in the yard

to exchange dull assembly for a walk alone

through streets silent of school clatter, fizzing rhymes


forming themselves in my mouth, the copper of

rainy pavements leading to sky-blue railings,

stone steps, wedged-open clinic doors:


antiseptic spells, where there were no bullies,

no screaming teachers, but a hushed routine,

lace-ups squeaking on polished floors.


I tried words for size, like tincture and chemical,

words I was too young to spell, though their rhythms

chimed in my ear, saved up like cajoled coins.


My iodine days, those blue forgotten mornings,

now obsolete, half a century away from here,

scented like parma violets, sweet on my tongue.


Angela Topping




angela at school


This poem is included in my new collection, provided my editor likes it, out later this year.



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2 responses to “Topical Iodine

  1. Great piece of work!

    Joan Leotta Author, Story Performer “Encouraging words through Pen and Performance” Giulia Goes to War, Letters from Korea, A Bowl of Rice, Secrets of the Heart. now available from Desert Breeze Publishing and Amazon Simply a Smile–collection of Short Stories from Cane Hollow Press and Amazon WHOOSH! Picture book from TheaQ and Amazon 910-575-0618

  2. thefeatheredsleep

    Excellent choice of iodine this really works