Issue 26: Camille Ralphs
Jael takes care of Sisera
this man came to this woman’s entrance once
upon a different time chased by abrasive
sand phased to a blur on eyeless wind
and dropt his well-oiled head upon her chest
his lamp was male and knowledgeable called
the canvas space its own called all of her
belongings into being from the dark
then she said You are safe from history
and hurt with me steam breathed from green
mirages or the mouths of words this page
was shared unshredded by the ancient damage
or the knife red rib-stiff at his waist
his shirt was dyed blue in the wool with power
as he went to sleep amid her life
then went to sleep a tent peg through his skull
as Jael’s tent windowless boiled with sun
for all the world or for a biblical hour
she ran pedalling dunes with her feet or our
glad glowered glared into the mirror
of that hated that entrancing vital night.
Look at My Glamorous Certainties
Sometimes I smile like a muscle, pulled – dream
through the warmth I’m
a baby of wheat, of two
eras, with two ears (wheat), and I sleep on
lilac water. Plus for scale
these aspirated syllables of ice,
moon-blue-white and as loose as ruins
sluice into the cornucopia
of the smudged cornea.
Wind beats in the heart-shaped leaves;
hospitable aren’t hospitals;
and hot dog smeared with mustard gas,
clause bulleted with points
and water-cannon budge along … plural as sheep.
O claws of flattened lilies.
Who can say all windows on the world
are chemical, when songs
air out the sky and eyes
double their vision, huh? You’re clean as burning
lavender, a woman by you, and beside
myself, says softly. Don’t wake up.
Camille Ralphs’s pamphlets are Malkin: An ellegy in 14 spels (2015), which was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, and uplifts & chains (2020). She is the poetry editor at the TLS.]
Copyright © 2021 by Camille Ralphs, 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.