The structure of this poem is based on Pascal’s Triangle.
Among vetch and dandelions, hollow shells, inhabitants gorged by blackbirds whose songs tremble in summer’s heat, you emerge - wrap around my calves, bind my arms, entwine my throat, caress my neck, my ears – insidious as haar that creeps in from the sea to steal the sun. Overhead, siren insistence of oystercatchers, while beneath the hawthorn bush a magpie tilts its head. Across years and continents, we cannot decohere.
This poem was first published in Dust Poetry in May 2021.
This poem first appeared in the Fib Review in March 2021.
Scylla and Charybdis is a lipogram, using only the letters contained in the title. It was originally published in the anthology Myth & Metamorphosis (Penteract Press).
Your grandmother’s, this set of six. I imagine her, fine-boned and elegant, serving turtle soup in these bowls. Delicate as eggshells, they nestle in their saucers while golden turtles drift around their sides, motionless against a hidden tide. Remember how we dived with turtles in sun-sparkled waters of the Gulf; how you admired their leisured grace, the slow speed of their flippers as they flew the sea like air. Remember how one night we watched hatchlings splutter from their nests, tumble down moon- white sand to bounce like pennies into hungry surf – hatchlings as tiny as these bowls that I will never use for turtle soup.
This poem was originally published in The Beach Hut.
When they stripped the ivy from the oak, he could see
the scar – the trunk’s flesh peeled away
to expose deep tissue, fibre pale as bone
where a limb was ripped by lightning
forty years ago.
Perhaps the oak had welcomed concealment,
the stranglehold of ivy, green
through all the seasons, all the years.
Watching from his bed the play of light
and shade, he pondered
how memories abide in trees – he recalled
thorns like bone needles, neatly paired,
glinting through the silver green of leaves;
the fissured texture of the bark;
as crescent moons; and how fiercely that day
he had focussed on the acacia, its details,
so that he did not have to look
at what was on the ground, nor at the vultures
above, in holding patterns.
‘Old Wounds’ was originally published in 192 Poetry Magazine.
Upstream in pools where the water barely flowed but for a gentle kissing
of the rocks, a tremor in the mirrored clouds – water transparent as air, sprung
from the mountain’s flank, too cold for bilharzia-bearing snails –
we found a duiker
its hide beginning to flake, its eyes glazed,
its legs stiff. We tensed too, my brothers and I,
in the cold shock of our discovery. I had not known
death before. Not this close. This unexplained.
The sun’s heat bounced off the rocks, drew out the fragrance of the grass. Death
did not belong here. Take its legs.
Our feet slipping on riverbed pebbles, we dragged the duiker through the pools
to where the stream began to quicken, to leap over hidden rocks,
swirl in eddies against the banks. Near the precipice
the river’s tug became too strong and we released the carcase to the current.
It floated haphazardly, tiny hooves bumping alternately
against the wavelets and the sky. We ran along the bank
to where the river abandoned all containment and hurled
down a vastness of rock. The duiker disappeared
in that foaming plunge towards the mist-green Honde valley. Above us,
white-necked ravens rode rollercoasters of air.
‘Turbulence’ was placed third in the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society Folio Competition 2020.
This poem first appeared in the Bridges 2020 Poetry Anthology (ed. Sarah Glaz), Tessellations Publishing, Phoenix, Arizona.
There is a recording of Marian reading this and other poems on the Bridges 2020 Virtual Poetry Reading website