-Kittie Belle from her collection “Sliced Tongue and Pearl Cufflinks“ published by @parthianbooks
Today I feel it is likely
I have lived half my life.
The feeling doesn’t make me sad
as today everyone seems happy.
I can still enjoy a glass of wine with lunch,
a slice of chocolate cake for tea.
My niece’s face getting out of the car
is the cutest face,
the butterfly picture from my sister
is so beautiful that I gasp.
Even the overcast weather is atmospheric
as we walk at Bolton Abbey,
even my greying hair no longer bothers me,
nor do the lines under my eyes.
Today I remind myself
life doesn’t stand still,
you must grasp it
or it will fly away like a moth.
There are collections of insects,
posters I’ve bought for a pound and framed
of Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
My great-grandma’s garden
drawn by one daughter,
coloured in by the other,
her embroidered pink-winged bird,
a purple snake in its talons,
an almost too perfect wreath of flowers.
Grandma’s gold-patterned plate in the lounge,
her sunset in a Wensleydale field
hanging in the hall, facing prints
of Castle Howard by an unknown artist,
a Christmas present from my aunt.
My brother’s portrait of a cat’s face
in a frame like the paintings of vases
my other great-granny brought from Canada,
painter again not known.
My great-aunt’s handmade cards
I keep in an album like photos or stamps.
There are landscapes of Devon and ancient China,
one of Ripon Minster as it was then called,
and a montage of some of the artists
posing for old-fashioned cameras.
Once through the painted gate you were mistress of your land.
Of a thousand waving heads, the children of your hands.
Of bushes sewn with currant gems, opal, garnet, jet.
Of canopies hiding rhubarb flesh.
Of strawberries’ bloody hearts wound fast in fragrant leaves.
Of beanstalk tower, kale cliff and steep potato ridge.
You directed me, your servant,
to the heaviest of work, digging spuds, wheeling muck,
lugging chairs for lunch. We’d eat our pies in silence
hair tugged by Irish winds, as war-planes split the sky
and robins nabbed the crumbs.
Your cheeks glowed neon-rose. An ancient neighbour waved.
I almost believed we’d work this plot
into our tanned old age.
my sister visited my dream –
she travelled miles within a heartbeat
to hold my hand and to buy
me ghost tea, and let me cry,
and everyone said she was a star.
but this, this I already knew;
she’s held my hand before –
bright starlight forms her core
Teresa Durran 210325
When my brother breathes he sounds like the bellows Daddy uses on the fire when it won’t get going – when all we have is smoke and no heat – which is quite often. When my brother has an asthma attack his lips go blue and sometimes Mummy has to call the Doctor and I get scared and think my brother will die. But asthma doesn’t stop my brother climbing trees or paddling in the stream and it never stops him from being annoying.
-Bronwyn Griffiths (First published in ‘Listen with Mother,’ Silverhill Press, Hastings in 2019.)
My sister has pearly scars
pairs of stitches, stars
that tidily orbit
a track below her heart
where the surgeon stitched
her up, after he fixed
a faulty valve
that forgot to close
-Spangle McQueen (first published in Kate Garrett-Nield’s 2018 Bonnie’s Crew anthology, which raised money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.)
An evangelical church at seventeen
who say they will decide
what boyfriends she can have,
and when she can see them.
A clairvoyant who tells her at twenty-two:
“Your husband will be military,
you will have two children,
your spirit guide is a Native American Indian.”
A son and daughter with her army husband
who tries to control her need at twenty-four
to sell the kid’s unwanted toys,
have a life outside her home.
Carboot sales where she enjoys the buzz
and money selling at twenty-six,
kids in tow, a profit and loss,
a hope after she divorces him.
A Native American Indian spirit guide
at the foot of her bed at thirty
tells her “You will die young,
and join your hankered mam in afterlife.”
A nail in her tyre, or over the limit
after celebrating at thirty-five
her employee’s twentieth birthday,
her car turns over on a hard shoulder.
Bios And Links
was born in south London and lives in Wales. Her poems and short stories have been published in Orbis, The North, Under the Radar, I am not a silent poet, Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review, The Lampeter Review and Brittle Star. She has been a Literature Wales Bursary recipient, shortlisted for the Venture Award and highly commended in the Welsh International Poetry Competition, the PENfro Poetry Festival Competition, The Camden and Lumen Poetry Competition and the Orbis Readers Award.
Her flash fiction and short stories has been published both online and in a number of print anthologies. She’s been published by Atlas & Alice, Bath Flash Fiction, Barren Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Reflex Fiction, Spelk, Worthing Flash, 100 Word Flash, Spilling Ink, Flight Journal and others. Her work has also been short-listed (and long-listed) for a number of awards.
She has four publications currently in print and a novel, Weight of Fog, in progress.
was born in London and lives in Hampshire but has rarely felt less English; the blood of Celtic ancestors flows through her veins. Being the daughter of immigrants has entirely informed her world view and she has always instinctively empathised with the outsider and the ‘other’. She writes delicate poems for fragile times because she has to. She wanders and wonders and dreams, and she is always lost in music.