What Breathes

A penguin has moved in with me.
Tired of the bitterness of seas,
it longs for a walk in the woods,
and wails when I demur.

I pick it up and it shakes with anxiety.
The house hums
as an underground train passes,
I hold the bird close,
feeling its body, its warmth.

We look through the window.
A man cycles by pedalling furiously.
Alright, says the penguin. Alright.
You can take me back now. I’m ready.

But later that night, I can’t stop crying,
and long for the ocean, white bones, blue fish.


Catherine Edmunds is a writer, artist, and Irish folk/rock fiddle player. Her published works include two poetry collections, five novels, and a Holocaust Memoir. She has been Pushcart Prize nominated three times, Bridport Prize shortlisted four times, and published by journals including Aesthetica, Crannóg, and Ambit.