The Body Broken

 

Mass and Sunday mourning pass the chancel black

and chalice-back of I, spire-spined and last to part

my plumping bud to take the nocturne wine. Mine

 

the softly hills, mine the spill and steeple-swing

of fruiting breasts and bells, yes. We break the bread

and bless. Lady in the lancet holds the apple mocking red.

 

Dappled chant and dark, ahead the blood-bright night

and first-light glass of gasping Eve, winter’s heave

hangs always here with heads that bow before the vow

 

to never grieve the leaving eyes of youth. Truth

is lost and winterworn. Borne away on snarling winds,

the greening drop of spring falls from my hair. The cleric’s

 

cloak is a darkly thing. My deeper, deeper throat

receives the gloaming sermon there, heir of the berry

dreamt to burst in his hand. Damn the vestal

 

up-and-swung of lust that Woman loved, budblood

and the Garden singing skin and pink bouquets, but

turn the tongue beyond the Book and in the darkest

 

places hold the harvest fruit and look above and long

to lasting-touch the apple that is loathed so much.

Such is Sunday mass and curse of we, the curled

 

Madonnas kneeling with a screaming in our skirts.

The weakly bread we break and nurse. And vow and

kneel and slaughter one more godless book of verse.

 

 

 

 

Jarrow Doll

 

These penitent nights, chapel-black

where the terrace turns its back to the hills,

after the wild white fists and the fight,

the blood-bite-kiss and the mist of the morning

over the dock, in the glowering grey

like a sentinel fox I slip in the dawn on

 

and beyond the wharfside-wetland-headland

away. Behind, my wound-tight sweat-damp

night and a lover whose name I never quite

know. Oh dockland dim and fog on the moor,

the wind at the water-bridge stops

at my corner-whore feet as I turn from that

frostshard street and home, a lone

 

lamp dim in the last laugh of night.

My Tyne-light mirrors me Madonna gone shy:

I who split spines of hills with my stride,

the mariner’s wife who watched from the shore

that ship ten years too lost. Now, the frost

of my widowhood workhouse-dark, my skull

holding eyes like cradles carved

 

with a terminal hand, and then when

the river moves the moon through the land

and I hold something crèche in my canyon

again, to rinse off the men from my skin

I remember. Before the bairns get in, I am

a heavy, bleeding gender. Your medal tender

glows on from the hearth, man of my heart,

seaman my own. Know only this: though

the field sheds its coat to the wind your infants

are clothed in the sweet sweet spring of youth,

a matriarch lighthouse guiding them home.

 

 

 

 

From Caitlin

 

After you, my lighthouse hope, who made a bonfire of my eyes,

the city streets grew old, and I like a lamp candled pale in the cold

coal night, who saw your spotlight glow and fail

here in the crag-black winter of Wales; I who brought to your door

the Irish moors, and London’s charm, and the wheeling, laughing

shorebirds of Laugharne, and made town bars our drama’s stage,

and aged a decade when you played away with local girls

and corner whores; I whose garden full of fruit, folding infants

in our bed, bled hot tears at two a.m. when morning

didn’t bring you home again; I, with the red slits of my eyes,

who saw in evening’s cups of light your hunchbacked-bent-bowed

head, a celestial star, when your words rolled far across miles,

and your eyes in the windowlight took the crack from my smile,

like a movie played in a firefly night; and I, once the lover

whose name you carved into stone, find the winter’s old cold

teeth now blunt in those first frost flakes of November, the annual

month I remember your bones, still gold, in that American bed.

 

Dead ten years. And still I doubt when, within those great Welsh wells and walls

they ring your passing bell, Dylan, did I ever really know you at all?

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Potts_authorphoto

 

Laura Potts is twenty-two years old and lives in West Yorkshire, England. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her work has appeared in Ezra Pound’s Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Interpreter’s House. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year shortlisted in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Laura’s first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

 

Update 30 March 2018: Read An Interview with Poet Laura Potts on Burning House Press

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