Her face like a river-beaten stone
on the day she rolled
from the city of white walls
and pebbly loch.
On a crush of wind, where her footprints
of scented ikra, met tarmac
and her foreign talk stuck black as oxen.
She fed love for money. She wrapped her children in sheets
and wished they would die –
She would bathe naked in the light, vine-plump
and like a pulling back of skin for teeth
reveal her scars.
Nobody saw much of her after a while. Only in red
when autumn rocked its leaves
in the bay of her window
where her body showed milky under the gauze.
I hear she died in agony.
They found her with a cigarette,
and a needle sticking out of her arm.
Her skin at last, blue, thick as a seal’s.
First published in ‘The London Magazine’
More poems from this publication: ‘Dawn’
Lamp in paperfields
and in the sky, a compression of long halls.
Do you know how sudden you are
how sad? Sadness being air
or soft fly of a thing
over dark houses.
The sad dying voice of the bird
is my dying voice
We are the poem – Look
our heads, tongues
drag with the old clock.
This is how it has to be.
The shadows dancing on the eaves
know our trick
of being one thing
when you lower the lamp
of your voice
my mouth rises to its light,
I dilate under your finger-tones,
if you fall the moon will step down
and hold you close
‘Bird’ – first published by IS&T. Shortlisted for Poem of the Year, Ink Sweat and Tears, 2016.