A flare-up on the surface of the sun,

a bloodspot on a yolk.

The most feared sign of all,

the lazy warning of a hidden wound.

Or what we most desire:

a blush, an orifice, a pleasant glow.

Red quickens the lips of girls, the fins of tropical fish,

the throats of jays, the end of a chase in a field.

I have seen people drag chairs out to patios

to drink wine the colour of poppies rinsed in it

while children turned cartwheels

on their lawns in front of them.

I have felt its breath on my cheek,

its tongue in my mouth,

its hand on my shoulder ― guilt, danger,

maladie d’amour and a county court judgment for debt ―

the colour of my fear, the colour of myself.



In the quiet of the forest,
on a bed of leaves beside a stream
I found an antler,
perfect, newly shed, warm to the touch.
An intricate wonder, a marvel I could imagine
crashing through bracken in moonlight
under a sky my breath would catch on.
And the deer who had left it on that dark hill
sharing the moment with me,
motionless among the trees.
I stood there silent
knowing that there were two of us
listening to the wind;
two of us
listening to the water
trickling across the rocks.




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