Shortlisted for Huddersfield Poetry Competition 2007

Glasgow Love Story

You climb a helix to the top of The Lighthouse:
the skyline layered: pale brick, blackened sandstone, gold crosses.
Her calf muscles sing from lovemaking in the Hill Street Travelodge,
where she’ll take you on a journey beneath the grid of the city,

follow the Clyde to Lead Hills where the air is clearer,
no taste of warm, cheap wine on her tongue, no smell of Camel cigarettes.
At the river’s source there will be a sharp frost, the water tasting of peat
as you slake the rawness in your throat, a half-opened lilac of want.

Mountains will circle you both
as you rest on bright green moss, on lichen covered granite.
She won’t have a husband, two full grown boys,
you won’t think of your mother – that rattle in her lungs.

Anne Caldwell

Chinese Fire Bellied Newt

You are as delicate as an unborn thing –
a glutinous chick in its sac, or the twelve week
scan of my boy with his spine curled like a question mark.

You raise your head towards me, slowly
nosing up glass, feet like plastic suckers, display your
silk waistcoat: imperial orange and black.

Your eyes stare an inscrutable stare,
draw me back into pre-history
to the first fish that gulped air

sulphurous mud clinging to
a tail used to clear water currents
eyes bulging at the sight of an ocean of green.

Today, your S-shaped tail is wedged
between a pebble and the aquarium base, you leap
across open water, miniature arms

outstretched as if to embrace another
who could be toxic to the touch. I’m aware of my coccyx,
lack of fur, loose skin between toes,

my deep rooted love of diving into a salty pool.
You’re not a loveable creature, but the double helix
of our genes is closer than I care to think.

Anne Caldwell

Kitchen. 3am.

Slugs’ language
has nothing to do with mind or spirit.
Pure tongue,
their bodies write out

the glow of a pearly button
burst from a pale silk shift
the sheen of a vulva,
the bracken smell of bed sheets.

They have criss-crossed my lino
all night, wound together like a nest of snakes
to smear the soles of my feet
with their silver calligraphy.

I print the whole house with desire.

Anne Caldwell

The mongrel dog clambered into bed with me and my life lost her skin, her safety, her well shaped hands and knees. To speak of what happened is to talk of a swallowed sandbank, a long forgotten scarlet-fever fairy tale.
To speak of what happened is to enter the Dark Wood. That flea bitten, jumped up, rebel of a mongrel dog shouted, full of wind, oh blow, blow, for fuck’s sake, fucking light the fire, you timid girl, let’s burn the suburban garden together, scorch all the young cabbages you’ve planted in regimented rows, the dreadfully frightened cucumber frame, those potatoes, swelling fat and rich like boring bad news accountants, that big fir tree of mediocrity.

Anne Caldwell


One comment

  1. Loved ‘Kitchen. 3am’. Really good poem.

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