One thing I like about publishing poems on The Lyrical Aye is the chance to educate myself in public. Today it’s a pleasure to bring you two new poems from a poet who, until they kindly sent me some work, I’d not heard of or read before. Olivia Hodgson is completing her MA in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. In 2016, she won their Mercian Prize for Poetry and is currently on the editorial committee for the annual BCU anthology. Her poetry and short fiction has been published in Strix and The Coffin Bell journals.
The river reaches over its bed like an aching woman.
The tide will persuade a shifting North shore to a slip of sea.
Lighthouse and lover notice a precipice of bodies –
intuition made flesh; gravity grown wakeful.
A sinking city spills into the hearth and over
the anchor of sleeping skin.
What paused in the folds of the water
when a creature the size of a thigh crested
on the sheets of foam, doubled back
Let’s lap at these shores. In a life
lit by what’s lonely and now at the hearth, I wonder
how this stokes, how this tends
to the embers of anxiety; the kick of gravity
sated by the beat of an offshore heart.
After ‘The New Bride’ by Catherine Smith
I tried to evict her: turned down the simpering
of the pilot light. How can I comfort, be sisterly,
to her outside the pains of teeth and hair,
a gum caught on the floss of a late-night
row? I picked the cotton from its loose
roots in percale, boiled clean the rushing world.
I tested what might be forgiven in the milk-thin hours
before a cast-iron honeymoon, hid the ash away.
I lost cuticles in the hardwood and nail,
my arms thinning to needles.
Later, in bed, I tried again
without the polyester slip he bought
lashed with pink. Naked as a crescent moon,
I held, then counted, the bolts of his vertebrae,
the urn in the wardrobe stirring.
The tectonics of the mattress shifted
from the double, split to the single.
I lay talking to the new husband’s nape
when the slip stayed there for a week,
living like coral on the floor.
I felt a bottle swung at the dead weight
of my laced, lingering brow – reached
to seal the breach; my kisses like wax.
That bawling brute, smashing the china
for me to hold, palms-up; its sharp peaks
misaligned, like jawbones spared of a mouth.
White as bile, I feel eyes on the shards of me
behind shower curtains; through fingers
striking matches for no candles, her smile
through a yellowing nylon nothing.
One morning, after the tender blue eggs
had burst before heat, I cradled the sting
at my ribs in their silent, elliptical orbits.
I took fistfuls of the dust of her, enclosed it
like a child’s trembling hand. I dissolved
between the gates at St. Adelaide’s, then lost
her still, like small change in the lining of my coat.
I opened my mouth to call for the lock
through which she must come
but was met by my own dry silence, communing
for something with two open, shattering hands.
Eviction is the harder part, darling – no light
left to spiral down the hallway toward you –
so I leave my bath water level as ice, my bread half eaten.
Often, when the wind has played the dark,
I press my shoulder to the curve of something
not yet sleeping, still blue with pulmonary blood.
Ah, sister – couldn’t you have warned me,
before you existed in the gap between
a funeral and a home?