One paragraph for all the lost bodies, somewhere still beneath dirt and grass and the slow trundle of grazing cattle meandering, one fence line to another. Musket balls get plucked up on odd days, rolled across a palm like a marble, dropped into a Tupperware tub, they outlasted the bones and flesh. A field with five hundred years to forget yet the calf gets sick with lead loses its eyesight to a pellet from a gun fired half a century before. History reaches past its paragraph of three thousand nameless men. Another misery of litter leftover once the war was done. Following tonight’s theme of smoke and mirrors, and feeling like the older you get, the less you actually know, I started thinking about how we learn about the history of warfare in schools. There’s a disconnect between the modern day and its wars, and battles such as the one at Bloor Heath* in Staffordshire where around three thousand men are thought to have died in the fighting. It’s easy to look …
These wings don’t go far, or high much. They rustle the leaves in the hedge when summer sits about, the branches when summer has flit south. There is something to be said for roots over wings. For a spot to return to each time, when it’s warm or cold and I don’t want to go far or high very much.
If I spoke with hysterical authority, held firm with fragile voice, shattered the glass of your skull screeching banshee screams despite nothing really being dead, would you change. Could my voice be enough to show you the fragmented reflection your kind has made me.
When the trainer asks ‘did you forget to breath’ it sounds stupid, and unfortunately true. A little like thinking too much about the doing so the thoughts twist knots into your limbs. The panic welling in much the same way as your lungs swelling up against your rib-cage. You were sure you were, then you’re not sure, suddenly so unsure you can’t even breath without counting each gasp. In… out… in… in… out.. out.. In… In… In… Out… Out… Out.. …
When it was good he could trace his name through freckles on her back. Could see all the ways he belonged in that bed, with her, in that house. Until belong became belong to, possession possessed in that bed, in that house by her.
She put it to the back of a wardrobe, in a bag of mismatched things, none of any use these days but none the sort you throw away. The sort you keep until they’re found by curious small hands cooped up by the rain on window panes. Discovering you before them.
We warp in the heat, buckle beneath the buzz of thick cut air pressing in on all sides. Can’t blame trains for stumbling. As unsteady on tracks as we are. Yesterday they seemed straighter, smoother, solid. Today everything is melting, running into gutters. I would stop too. Choke my mixed signals and lurch into whatever station offered refuge. Poem for the hottest July day on record.
Some days I don’t need a husband I need scaffolding. So I can tend to the broken, the busted windows the cracking paint, the guttering that doesn’t drain when the rain comes in and all the sediment circling the drain but never quite clearing. Some days I need that from you, and nothing more.
Half this family tree has been watered until the branches hang heavy with fruit. We know all the name, if not the faces, see the resemblance in the variety. On the other side we know much less, can’t quite feast on what is left. There are wanderers in this blood, apples that fell far and wide and distant. Strangers in stranger places bobbed, grew their own trees from loose cores. People put down roots, grew branches, spread the distance between lines.
Cup the whole of me in one hand. Hold my belly up to a light, judge my origins, if I might be the real deal. Examine my spine carefully through this sheen of skin while I burn like paper, edges curling in as I smoke. Test the me between teeth, bite down, heads up, crack your enamel on my silver forked tail. Spit me free with blood and tooth and every question asked to test the mettle in me. Wonder why I leave with a word like love so sour in my mouth I choke.