Poems - Issue 5
Included below are 3 poems from Issue 5, by the following writers:
Sarah Doyle: Sarah is co-author of Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System (PS Publishing), and is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence. She has been published widely and placed in many competitions. Sarah recently completed a Creative Writing MA at UL Royal Holloway. More at: www.sarahdoyle.co.uk.
Joanna Ingham: Joanna grew up in Suffolk and lives in Hertfordshire. Her poetry has been published in magazines including Ambit, BBC Wildlife and Magma, as well as The Sunday Times and the anthology Best British Poetry 2012 (Salt).
Cheryl Pearson: Cheryl lives in Manchester. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Southword, and Under The Radar. She won first prize in the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2016. Her first full collection, Oysterlight, was published by Pindrop Press in March 2017.
The woman who married an alchemist
He chose me for my dullness, he told me; the challenge
of it, of replacing my sickly patina with glow. I know
a project when I see one, he said, appraising the weight
on me, the soft lead bulk that settled round my bones.
He set to work, stoking fires and sweltering at phials,
pinching my skin between his thumb and forefinger,
a fever of text coiling from his lips. He stroked
my breasts, my belly, my hips with a practised hand,
though never with a man’s desire; I was metallurgy,
and no match for his iron resolve. Those first weeks,
my blood fizzed with heat and my pores secreted a
sulphurous odour whose rotting breath choked the air
around me. He was mercurial: shrill with triumph
at every slight yellowing, bitter with recriminations
when the grey of my tarnish bloomed once more.
He dowsed me with water, kindled flames at my feet,
packed me in salt. It was my fault, I was never more
than alloy, a bastard mix that was temporary at best.
He radiated ire, raged that I had the brass neck to stand
there, useless as pyrite, fool that I was. He considered
veneering my skin with gilt, but would always feel
the difference, he said; how my lustre was superficial,
lacking the subcutaneous value he craved. I willed
myself to shine for him, but was made of baser stuff.
Never golden. Never precious. Never good enough.