Issue 13: Kate Behrens
Looking For Clues
The two-year-old in chequered shoes
lifts the fine arch of her brows
over an orange chair-back
from under a jammy corona
light as one of your blue tits’ nests.
Later as I’m listening out
to sounds an oyster might whistle,
she wheels her pram and doll
past the water dispenser,
waves goodbye to everyone
and the verdigris air’s an envelope
sealing itself on her sap.
You’re forced to miss a flying bird
(now the same as everything else,
stark as words left in the air).
The steel-framed hill flickers
with all your old belongings.
I steer you by an unfathomable
tenderness in your rigid arm,
past the hospital book stall
and even the barrier
freeing us to the roundabout
just grew livelier…
Half-numb from a yellow glaze
we’d plodded in smells of unshed sap
losing integrity, into the dusk…
Was it serendipity, then,
tumbling a glaucous flash
and arsenal fashioned from black and blue play
to this, a rare interpreter
of raven glossolalia,
or that a raven remembered you?
Close to a quiet crater
chert fists are winking scarlet.
There’s blood in the eye of the forest
though green blackens it,
and some thin cataract’s
uncertainly scrawled over
right to the tips of skeleton oaks,
just under a human’s lines.
You’ve got the medicine
river and voice prescribed;
sloe, ash, pungent ribes –
here, this burnt out hollow
where we’ll find morels.
On the slope we’re into Carthusians –
toenails as blue as indigo
touch the thrown-out chalk.
You stop, tickle some Dame’s Violet,
remark that in this ditch your toe
was where at 2 a.m last night
a glow worm lit your path,
how baby tawnys sssss’d you off,
and later, in Hill Road,
tongue loosened further by hedges,
‘let’s trip these cyclists into tomorrow’,
followed by dreams of Father Pio,
your recipe for pilchard soup
and all the possible things to do
I’m drifting as counties of women
hail prayers down your scars.
Kate Behrens was born in 1959, one of twin daughters to two painters. Her first collection, The Beholder, was published in 2012 and a second is due to come out in early 2016. Other poems have appeared here in Blackbox Manifold (Issue 9) and in various anthologies. She was a runner up in Mslexia’s 2010 competition and a poem was chosen as Oxford Brookes ‘Poem of the Week’. She reads regularly at Poets Cafe in Reading.
Kate has one daughter and lives in Oxfordshire.