Poems

The Red Wardrobe

The red wardrobe where you shut in my sister,

the iron key sliding into your pocket.

 

The red wardrobe that fell on my sister,

its colour old blood and rusty oil

on the soft blue insides of her elbows, her wrists,

 

like the Chinese burns she gave me

as I cried and hated her, until I remembered

how she made herself small in corners,

how i thought she was a kitten crying until I shook her.

 

The red wardrobe, its doors opening and closing in my dream,

the warm nuts in its dust becoming mice eyes,

their long tails, scratching,

 

that my father splintered and burnt

the day all the women left and we had fireworks.

From The Red Wardrobe, Seren, 1998

 

The Witch Bag

Remember me. I am the woman

who shook her fisted nipples

at the moon,

bearing down the dark streets

that could not take her.

 

My face broke in two

as I ate its bright cheek,

my hands sudden as marshlight

held before me

into the dark nights that followed.

 

I am the woman who flew

not only in her dreams,

but remembered the spell as she woke

and hunted sighs like ticks,

dipping and turning as she went.

 

That woman, weightless thing,

thin as pond moss,

blacker than the pond’s black belly.

she hooks its clammy limbs around her own

and sucks the water into herself.

 

That woman, without a world,

who goes hopping with one boot

between twilights,

a bagful of grave treasures

lost and lost again –

 

mask of hair, milk tooth,

heel-bone, blood purse, name.

From The Witch Bag, Seren, 2002

 

Fox at Midnight

It is the longest night and we are out,

crossing the field from the house.

Our shadows fall through the trees like owls.

 

A fox slips from the wood. It has come

for the sheep lain dead for days by the well.

We stop. It is thin, its red dips

 

to blood red at its ribs, a vixen

in its fluid line and lightness

with cubs to feed, scurried under the earth.

 

She comes swiftly on and begins to dance,

throwing the sheep’s mantle

like a crown of blossom over her back,

 

pirouetting neatly in the last of the guts.

From Other Beasts, Seren 2008