My husband’s afraid of the Bronte sisters,
can’t sleep for picturing them, all of six inches tall,
icy hands tiny as snowflakes melting down his sock.
He knows they are biters, small things eat him up.
He can feel shiny nibs on his ankles, scratching
to write their names on his skin; his blood is ink.
Even if they’re not attacking, he hears them at night.
Here, wandering to his belly button to gather feathers
for their quilts, lifting a fallen eyelash to make a wish.
One day, he’s sure, I’ll place our underwear in a glass case,
take the excluder from the door and just let them in.
I’ll join them and he’ll have to look wherever he walks
because I’m so scary small. Just like that, a pen could
unpick his tendons like a stitch. Just like this, he may crush me,
see my bonnet, a bluebell leaving purple on his bare foot.
(published in The Scratching of Pens (ed: angela topping,
like this press 2014)
I sense her. She stands behind me but doesn’t know
how the book ends. Look round and she’ll disappear.
Reading over my shoulder, she seems puzzled;
1998? – that’s the wrong year.
Dead of night, and I’m in a room of the town house
she worked in. Her pens are dry, fireplace swept out.
A daddy-long-legs flops on the desk, attracted
by the steady glare of my anglepoise lamp.
And we’ve arrived at a hot Victorian summer,
1883 I think; magnolia shade
in the garden, hansom cabs, evil news from India,
and black-clothed strangers stopping at her gate.
I see you are reading my diaries, and letters
not addressed to you. The house-dog growled
faintly as I came upstairs, but it makes no difference,
locked doors and window-chains will not keep me out.
I too was a writer, and know the subject
is passive, unvarying, and can’t answer.
Whatever insult you throw, I can but take it;
all power is given to the biographer.
But why do you quote dates from the distant future?
And why may I not see the last chapter?
published in Psychopoetica, the poem is about Margaret Oliphant
The Huge Paradise
translations: Yuanbing zhang
The giants of soul flashing
have a pair of invisible wings
Can fly over the Milky Way in a dream
to those mysterious Kingdoms
Bring the words of the gods
Let the stonebe transparent and smile
Let heaven and earth revolve wonderfully
become a huge paradise
The Giant’s Song
Give me a mirror of heaven
let me see my tomorrow
Give me a pair of eyes of the gods
let me see the prehistoric city of giants
Oh , the golden country of legend
The angel garden above the clouds
Your soul bird returns from the outer space
Has carried the giant’s song for you
Fearful whispers of imagining
follow us down collusive streets
where people strike us
eager to collect flesh.
Trophies are dear
to blind wanderers
blown through a hurricane world,
who slink in populated corners,
furred against northern nights,
thonged against southern days
and never cry beware
of fearful imaginings.
from the collection Civilised Ways