Issue 21: Tessa Berring and Kathrine Sowerby
Their Wings Too Soft To
It was made of towelling
not quite buttercup, not sliced lemon
and stretched over my stomach
when I swam up and down, up and down
a butterfly on the surface of the water
bruises on my hands
There’s a pier at the end of the lane, they said
How surprised they were
when I sang – so loudly –
about being followed
about falling over in corners
while you wrote about lemons
and lies, lies, lies
Comma! Apostrophe! Comma!
That was loud too,
and I had to laugh in secret
so as not to wake the baby
wrapped in a towel
Apostrophe! Comma! Apostrophe!
Like hunger when it’s rushed
Nothing lasts long
which is the opposite of visitors
and stones and weed and sleep
and dreams that don't matter at all
You are so fat, she screamed
Will there be fish packed tight with bones?
Fish cut into perfect squares?
Singing in French?
Le jour et la nuit – off by heart!
Then I will sing about pubic hair
A gazoo gazoo – hair everywhere
There’s only so much you can fit
in a rental car. The baby?
My coat fastens round both of us
when the wind blows
Turn and walk the other way!
I took my swimsuit off
peeled it – you know the feeling?
The tank of water that is slimy and rusty
at the same time, which makes me stop and think
There's a lay by
with grass that nobody cuts
but this time there is falling
and a ball that bounces two thirds of the way
My hands hurt
Can you hear the helicopter?
There's a corner I can reach and a sweet smell
Did the baby grow up? It doesn’t take long
and there are so many apples
I'll call mine 'Thief' or 'Radio Pip'
Everyone should just shut up
and duck behind the tree
I’m glad we’re not singing
Will the bruises go away?
and the commas I want to ignore
drip drip drip
At least my swimsuit is dry
As If To Say, That Is How Love Works
I think of hand puppets in the bed – so diplomatic, so expressive. So empty afterwards, like lettuce so loveless. Was I blue bear, were you red cat?
Dreams that are not dreamed in time explode!
They have to go somewhere. In boxes, labelled. Or tucked inside other boxes you can only open with a fingernail. Don’t bite!
My body worked better than my voice. Worked better? Was louder? It bent in directions my voice could not. Is that what I meant?
It’s one meaning. Each meaning takes you closer to whatever it is you mean, which is another meaning, Meaning: keep going.
When I speak I want you to know that you are listening. I have important things to say.
My hands are eloquent and thoughtless and my eyes close so easily. You have the eyes of a child waking up.
My thoughtless hands slide into a blue bear and tell it straight. They tell it straight and my thumb is warm.
My hands reach under furniture and sweep up handfuls of hair.
Soap vanishes, and we get more soap, and we rub it all over our bodies. I imagined hallways of boots, mud and not caring. That home would always be safe.
My hands are eloquent and my body is soft. The blue bear is flat. I kept the puppy’s eye for a long time with good intentions, black thread dangling.
Gestures like buying your lover an iced bun. Too late my sweet.
It's no-one's fault when the knives drop into the flowers, when the mice are giants, when everyone wakes up screaming.
My eyes hurt, or is that just something I say? A catch phrase like the bitten hair and all those things I lie about liking.
I don't want your golden apples! Hey, keep the chill to yourself! I will shut the doors, peel oranges till I weep over the shelves.
Oranges smell good, even grapefruit sold in bottles smell like oranges. More orange than oranges, which tips meaning closer to meaning.
That mixing up of octopus, bruised fruit and knots of purple hair. Plus rose leaves and salt. Hard to know what to do with it. Such small type.
I was wrong, Blue bear was a cat. My hands forget what is what. Like the rabbit that was an obvious squirrel. Sometimes you forget or believe too much.
And no matter how hard you try the smell won’t go away, the shoe won’t fit. Perhaps I am greedy, have you ever drunk cream?
Hands are difficult to lay flat, unlike gloves or empty cats. Stop!
I must send out a list and make my new disguise. Hooray says the friend. Everything will be good. Your eyes are blue as a medicine box.
I want to be far and near. I want to smile with natural radiance. Can you?
Tessa Berring and Kathrine Sowerby live in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. More of their collaborative work can be found via Zarf Poetry, Datableedzine, 3: AM Magazine, A) Glimpse) Of) and The Scores. They also produce their own pamphlets under the imprint Whole Endeavour Press. These Include 'Bazooka' and 'Tables and Other Animals, a Poem in Four Acts'.
Copyright © 2018 by Tessa Berring and Kathrine Sowerby, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.