My mother was a house
I couldn’t quit soon enough,
a place with peepholes
I poured out through and
doors that opened in every
dark so in my sleep, bags
of ballast slipped from
around me and I spun
uncentered from cellar to attic.
I couldn’t see she was soldered
to me under my skin, this mess
of her then me, mortgage I
can’t pay no matter how raw
I run. How wrong I rattled
around in her rooms.
Laurinda Lind lives in the U.S. in New York State’s North Country, and won the 2018 Keats-Shelley prize. Her poetry has appeared in Antiphon, Antithesis Journal, Crannóg, Sonic Boom, and Two Thirds North among others; also in anthologies Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan (New Rivers Press) and AFTERMATH (Radix Media).
(For Geoff and Sarah)
The cardboard box is so light
she thinks there’s nothing in it.
Unfolding the flaps—leaves
laid out as rows of hearts,
old leaves from lime trees
on sheets of tissue paper.
She checks her dad’s writing,
his fluent tops and tails.
She’d mentioned in passing
about the calendar project.
Her children loved rubbings,
a shape opening another.
He must’ve stopped messing
with the old Massey Ferguson.
Walking the copse, he’d picked
each one, weightless in his palm,
the flesh of green gone,
leaving the hearts skeletal.
She lifts out layer upon layer,
lays them around her. He knew
how to fill an empty space
without crushing the gift.
Stuart Pickford is the recipient of an Eric Gregory award. His first collection, The Basics, was published by Redbeck Press (2002) and shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection prize. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish (2016), was published by smith/doorstop. Stuart lives in Harrogate and teaches in a local comprehensive school.
You appeared at my gingerbread door
last summer. Your lips were mulberry-stained,
your cigarette a chocolate finger between them.
A carpet bag hung from your cinder toffee wrist.
Each of your eyes was a walnut half.
You touched my hair’s spaghetti strands;
held a shot glass to my tears and drank
as you pinched two thousand days’ worth
of pink blancmange quivering from my hips.
You stayed six weeks. We dreamt of nibbling
around the edges of the morbidly obese moon
(built with Blacksticks Blue). Snapped
barley sugar gutters from the roof,
crunching them in your claws, never my teeth –
like we were fourteen again, and caught
inside the deep-fried Mars bar breath
of close August nights. Each time the sky belched,
you’d press yourself tight to my spine.
Breaking, breaking, breaking up
the collecting dusk, you whispered,
I will love the bones of you.
Your phalanges made their acid drop bruises
along my neurons. When I kissed your jaw, I tasted
ice. Rust. Shadows. Moss against granite.
Olivia Tuck has had poems and prose published in literary journals and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Lighthouse, Amaryllis and Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work also featured in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, a charity poetry anthology on the subject of mental health, and she has been Highly Commended and shortlisted in one or two short story competitions. She is due to start at Bath Spa University this autumn, to study for a BA in Creative Writing. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites