Her root emerged, deliberately. I grazed my hands and cut my knee and bruised my hip. I lay there, underneath the Rosewood, waiting — for strong arms, soft lips; for the breeze through leaves to shhhhhh my pain away.
She whispered, “stay”. And so I knelt between her gnarly feet and pressed my bloody palms into the earth. My fingers reached into the cool, wet mud beneath and all my damaged parts were soothed. I didn’t want to leave.
“Ok” I whispered back, slumped against the trunk, “just for a while.” I shut my eyes and curled up like a…
I heard the rain had stopped
and left my toast beside the bed.
My feet took me outside;
I ate the sun
to break my fast, instead.
Dawn’s vapour rose to bathe my legs
as I waded through the wheat.
I drank the dew and thought of you;
that I need to eat.
© Amy Knight 2020
Back then, when you and I weren’t talking
you took off your sweater
in the middle of a meeting,
while the boss was speaking,
so that I could see the colour
of your t-shirt underneath
blue-green, the same shade as your irises
in brand new polyester
- it’s been my favourite hue forever -
so you may as well have seared I Love You
right across your chest,
naked on Zoom.
I watched your lips shake
- and some tears escape -
and how your box stuck out in agony
between the rows and rows
of red-eyed faces, separated,
The sun arrived in time to say “Good Night”.
What a cold, wet Spring!
It was already late when we set off walking
and the sky finally took off her clouds.
That cold, wet Spring went on forever!
My face, chest, arms and toes were ready
when the sky finally took off her clouds;
put on her evening dress of pink and gold.
Face, chest, arms, toes, eyes, tongue — ready
and Spring knew that I’d been aching for you too.
She eased that pink and gold charmeuse over her head,
for our late walk.
I kept on aching; sun…
I’m searching for a bench, redolent of the one halfway
between our houses, where the white vans drove too fast,
straight past our weeknight curfew.
Now your burning guitar strings are replaced
by the cold chains of these playground swings,
with long-lost mixtapes
m u t t e r i n g through hours of hide and seek.
What was it that we wrote and drew
and thought we knew?
Perhaps the bench I need to rest my feet is one we found
down by the water’s edge,
on the day we tried hard not to touch. …
I can’t hear you, Cancer
over sweet sing-song “Hullo”s and distant garden birds;
your cursed words buried
under rain-soaked soil
— home turf. Your weight
is lifted by their smiles; your biting jaws
shut up by happy chants. Your thieving fingers
slapped away by celebrations shared
in love’s exchange.
Though I would find you, waiting in that room,
in weary eyes and shaking hands
and cigarette butts on the patio,
I won’t be going looking and
you can’t metastasise this far.
You cannot reach me down the wire
and if I never see, then no—
you don’t exist to me.
Roughly, loosely, circular
with asymmetric elegance.
Handwoven birch in tatty strands
with dried hibiscus — blushing, brash —
and punctuated halfway round
with fragile eucalyptus leaves.
Imperfect, yet so narcissistic
as I dangle, knowing that:
our mother made us, differently —
and held us with her gentle string.
Amy Knight 2021
Notes on self-portraiture
This poem was written for an assignment set by my Faber Academy tutor, the poet Maurice Riordan.
“Roughly, loosely, circular with asymmetric elegance” — face
“tatty strands” — hair
“punctuated halfway round” — a scar
“our mother made us, differently” — a sibling
Notes on flowers
I force myself to leave the screen
and take nine steps
from one side of the breakfast bar
to the other: “out of office.”
A solitary crumpet leaps from the toaster with barely a sound
and my empty stomach flips
as I remember long strides, walking
to The Cherry Tree
for lattes and poached eggs,
before you told me B had lost his job
and you’d booked a flight to Wisconsin.
My fingers — greased with olive spread
and vegan Marmite,
slip — as I pick up an iphone, put it down,
pick up another one the same,
Actually, I don’t have one at all now.
That thing you stand on
when you want to know whether
the running on e m p t y and
the half-packet of biscuits and
the pains and
the wine and
have made any difference,
or whether it’s hopeless. In which case
there will be more biscuits and wine
followed by a headache and a longer run,
before settling in
for a night of clock-watching:
r a t t l i n g
amidst deafening vibrations of vacuity
and pretending it’s because
the washing machine is on full spin.
I’ve put crumb-covered knives back into tubs of spread,
and left six half-read books down the side of my bed.
(I know I’ll enjoy finding and re-reading them one day
and there’s no room on the shelf anyway.)
I drink gin out of coffee cups
and cheap coffee from a small bowl
which used to be a cup,
(but I dropped it and broke the handle off.
Sometimes I like to use it for nuts.)
I cut wild branches from hedgerows
and stand them in empty bottles
on a windowsill that’s cracked and chipped. …
Wordsmith . Storyteller . Poet . Collaborator . Listens to what human hearts are whispering and sings it out of the window at sunset. IG: @amyknightwriter