Inspired by the photographs of Dutch photographer Niki Feijen
An Unfinished Story
What dreams died here beyond this threshold
where nature is carried by circumstance?
A full moon lights the skillet on the stove,
its crusted pancake of droppings,
waiting to be tossed.
The moon tells us they left without coats.
They hang in the cupboard like tattered bats,
an intrigue for spiders, a safe house for mice,
empty shells for silver fish.
Mildew soils the children’s clothes,
runs amok in their vests and socks,
grows out of their shoes, foxes
their games and books.
In the bedroom the moon is a nightlight
for the mind’s incredulous eye.
Moss pads soft over rugs,
creeps onto the unmade beds,
smothers the absence with a velvet pillow.
Ivy clings to the bars of the cot.
Nature squats in this dereliction, possessed
with the spirit of a wild child, it’s her haunt now.
At home with ruin, desertion, mystery,
she scrawls over the unfinished story,
writing her own gripping chapters,
a ghost writer filling the gaps in the plot.
Stella Wulf’s poems are widely published both in print and online, and appear in several anthologies including, The Very Best of 52, three drops, Clear Poetry, and forth coming in #MeToo. She Lives in S W France and has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University.
After you were born, we planted a tree
– a sapling pear.
The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun; a signal
for the soil to nourish with tenderness
a ritual renewed by the sound of a new born’s snuffle.
In time, the blossom is as white as your flesh
is pink. Fragile heads flicker in the breeze.
A salutation to Hera.
Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.
Each one a single drop of tear.
Time waits for the flight of an angel’s wing;
as our abundant crop hails his first cry, our blessing
and so you were born
– a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.
The Blessing was originally published in A Slither of Air (2011) Indigo Dreams Publishing
Alison Lock is a poet and author of six publications – three poetry collections, two collections of short stories, and a fantasy novella. Her stories have won prizes in The London Magazine Competition 2015, The Sentinel Quarterly Review, and The 14th Conference for the Short Story in English at Shanghai.
Seeing the Entomologist
He doesn’t know that a bee, drinking salt
from the pores on his wrist, is called
a Sweat Bee. Nor that a butterfly, fluttering by,
has memories of caterpillar life.
He rolls onto his stomach, shades his eyes,
says, ‘now you’re making it up.’ She laughs, her hair
a spill on the grass, counters,
‘google it if you like.’
He learns how a raft spider can submerge
for an hour, that Hawk moths have ears
on their mouths. She doesn’t know
that the lake remembers
every pebble you throw, and that
if a loved one dies, a body can fill
with grief, the way a water barrel
fills with sky.
Roy Marshall’s first pamphlet Gopagilla (2012) received favourable reviews in the TLS and elsewhere. His first full collection The Sun Bathers was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Award, and a second collection The Great Animator (Shoestring Press) appeared in 2017. Previously a nurse, Roy now works in adult education.
You can follow Roy’s blog here: Roy Marshall
It was a Sunday Night and the Hospital was Short Staffed
Hooked to a drip,
she abandons her father’s mizpah ring
into my hand,
falls back onto a pillow
and labours whispers that make no sense.
At midnight, a priest scurries to her bed.
I sit, stand, sit, until a nurse guides me
to a visitor’s room. In darkness,
at two in the morning hot tears slide to my ears,
while an on call surgeon gives her one last chance.
I shiver in the heat of June
and she’s out of it in morphine.
After thirty years of daily offerings,
when I need God, prayers come cold and rote,
pleas remain in my mouth.
A steady voice asks about next of kin,
a pen draws a line across a page
and I taxi home to my daughters.
Sometimes I sit with her possessions:
folded paper with one stitch of ribbon
marks her twenty first birthday in 1943,
a card signed from family whose names
are as obsolete as themselves:
Cissy, Gertie and Albert.
On special occasions, I wear
a blue silk jacket,
handmade for her the year I was born.
Maria Isakova Bennett
Maria, from Liverpool, is widely published and has won and been placed in several international competitions. Last summer Maria was awarded a Northern Writers’ Award by Clare Pollard and launched a limited edition stitched poetry journal, Coast to Coast to Coast. Her pamphlet, All of the Spaces is published by Eyewear.