Issue 25: Kate Arthur


moving means you are still alive

I stood with my feet bare

in the heart of spring in the wood

in the belly of the wood I stood

and listened: skylark   woodcock

little wren and pigeon     I reached

up my arms and drew them down

down until each one a diamond of sound

and the song mingled until panes lined

up in the sky     the light fell in patches

on the young green ferns

so I walked in it and yet they

did not crush: this was my first miracle

the gold vein the spider made winked

This I swallowed and when I sang

the sleeping reached their warm hands

through my dreams and when they grasped

something real I pulled them to me

my first husband died

the main way to love is to resist

when he died he gave me the only land I ever wanted

doing nothing with your body: what could matter more

each time he moved towards me I dropped a veil

I turned

I was young when he died: I didn’t know what I wanted

conversation was impossible

when I was hungry I clasped my hand

tightly round a spray of elderflower

and inhaled the scent from my palm

I was known for not eating

once I’d ground poppyseeds

between my molars in sleep

I didn’t need it anymore

when I left my second husband

I did not know where I was going

lost acres where my mind froze

the sun in my eyes while I drove

for miles over sun-buckled roads

not registering the fenland settlements

the haystacks looked like shelter

I couldn’t stop     all I know is I drove north

when we first met     he was a boy really

it wasn’t the case that as he grew

he wanted me

when he knew he couldn’t have me

he wanted me

the more I tried to leave the greater his desire

it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want him

as I had somewhere else to be

in my own flesh

I wouldn’t say it felt good to leave

but I was myself in my own body

what if I had stayed? I’d have been

another mere wife and mother

I know that by holding my body back

in life I would be free

in death I would be a dwelling

I kept it for myself

I walked alone for miles

back to the only thing I

wanted for my own     I

never saw a man     I

never saw god     but god saw me

Kate Caoimhe Arthur was born in Co. Down and has recently returned there after several years in the Cambridgeshire Fens. In 2017 she was the Fenland Poet Laureate. In 2018 she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series. She has been published in The Fenland Reed, The Tangerine, abridged, and Best British and Irish Poetry 2018. She works in collaboration with the fine-art printmaker Iona Howard.

Copyright © 2021 by Kate Caoimhe Arthur, 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.