Later she went in with flowers, like honey in broken glass
for the hollow women with little fires in their chest
that refused to be put out, for herself, for the hell
of it, for the green apple stem and earth
and in the darkness there was colour, small strewn flags,
yellow like morning, red for dusk.
They let them in, clutched unsearched as if a flower
were a holy thing even to them, even to a man in black
gloves looking for bombs, opening and closing gates
to the narrow crack, as if flowers were mourning
ghosts falling like rain on every prison’s roof.
She took them in, hoping the rain would fall
and every spat word, waiting hurt, every gloss wall,
mirror blurred, every no glass vase
would expand, bloom, transform itself
to dance like wildfire through a burning house.
She took them in because they said what was in her heart,
what could not be said in ink: it is summer in the mind,
cherries are falling on the grass under branch,
this is your house, this is my house, these our flowers.
Avril Joy’s short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies and has been shortlisted in competitions including the Bridport and the Manchester Prize for Fiction. In 2012 she won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award. Her latest novel, Sometimes a River Song, is published by Linen Press. In 2019 her poem Skomm won first prize in the York Mix poetry competition. She is currently working on a sequence of poems reflecting her twenty-five years spent working in a women’s prison in County Durham.