published in Under the Radar, Nine Arches, 16′
Her shoulders lifted men from their sleep
boys from their borderlands.
Neither human nor loving creatures
their hands bled an oblique path
for her to burn through
to bury her skies – part her thighs
let the soot-rained wet
slip like oil rings over feverish grass.
It was their constant confession.
What they loved was cancer, what they dragged
they hated and loved as their mothers –
the doctrine of the stoop
labouring under her big wheel
their torches were moon heads
her worm heads. At dawn
the sky divided
her return brought the sky-chain ringing
people singing in droves,
dragging her blowtorch godhead –
Were she to have stood on her hind legs
the sky would have dipped forward.
Were the sky to have dipped
she would have clambered between stars
cradled the cycle of their star-work.
But being Black, and of the Country
she ploughed low. Lifted the belly of her coal
to her back, and with the weight
When men went away
they dropped to their knees and prayed
© Helen Calcutt 2015