And finally, here are three poems from Sea Between Us (2022) which features poetry from Catherine Gander, Georgia Hilton and Anna Kisby. The collection examines “our place in the world, not just physically, but through shared histories, myths, stories, place and understandings” (Nine Pens 2022). You can buy a copy of Sea Between Us here.
I hope you enjoy these final three poems that I have selected as much as I have revisiting the pages of all three anthologies and delicately lifting each one out to share with you all!
Night night x
/STR/ANGER by Catherine Gander
The root of the word “anger” is “tight, painfully constricted”. the root of the word “guest” houses the root of the word “host” – they stem from the same word, “stranger”. AT one time they were so close as to be both foreign to and indistinguishable from each other.
It’s hard to tell the guest from the host at this stage.
I make my way to the kitchen before sunrise
and there it is, making coffee, passing me a cup,
urging me to drink while it’s still hot.
Even when it’s not around I feel it coming – like one senses
waiting in a leaden sky, or a call before the telephone rings.
Last time it left it handed me its card, which I didn’t accept
but later found tucked between utility bills.
I can tell it wants to be useful. It vacuums, scrapes
grief from the dishes, practises its smile on our child.
We scroll through news together, it helps me order books,
make placards, flyers, window signs. It likes to craft.
It eats what we do, preferring a set menu – the flavours
are usually the same, the textures vary. It favours
a dish passed down on my mother’s side.
Its table manners are exquisite, which I always find surprising.
It has trouble being understood. I recognize its language
as similar to my own but its lexicon is limited.
Sometimes it tires to sing, although I’ve seen it
on its knees, bringing up bile, spitting out words like teeth.
It calls me ghos-ti, gospodi, ‘lord of strangers’ yet tells me
it was born here. Our living quarters are painfully
constricted. The proximity of guest and host haunts me
but I let it in, set a place. I remain hospitable.
Phoenix by Georgia Hilton
When I went up in flames
it wasn’t quick, or clean.
Even now I can hear myself
scream. In still moments
it comes back to me –
the howling, the disbelief,
the smell of burnt fat,
singed feathers, scorch marks
on the ceiling. The mess I left
behind when I immolated
was itself an atrocity.
I grew back a worm
from a pile of ashes, ugly
pale thing without feeling.
Here I am in red and gold,
indestructible, a flame-bird –
rage and sheen are what
the fire left in me. You say
my tale is hopeful – yes –
I was reborn but I still died first,
my plumage mimicking
the thing that killed me.
And I did it to myself, that’s
what hurts the most.
Alligator by Anna Kisby
We were driving through the bayou
when we passed signs warning Alligator.
The road we were driving was straight as fate
on a tarot card, waters rising on each side.
Driving together so long we were like one
person looking out for those Jurassic stares.
In those days not a soul knew where we were
and we went unrecorded except on reptile retinas.
Come this far south and nothing else to do
but pull into a layby in a fug of cicadas and love.
You never were a talker, held your cards close,
the Lovers in your palm dwarfed by a sun
warming the earth too fast. Two decades later
I hear alligators are in Virginia, heading for
the sewers of New York. Turns out they were
nothing special, nor us, nor the lightning bugs
glancing our windscreen as we sat close,
turning around and driving out of the wild
into the north, straight on into the bite
of the rest of our lives.
Gander, C., Hilton, G. & Kisby, A. (2022) Sea Between Us. North Pennines: Nine Pens
Nine Pens (2022) Sea Between Us [online]. Available from https://ninepens.co.uk/ [14 April 2022]